Developmental inhibition of miR-iab8-3p disrupts mushroom body neuron structure and adult learning ability

Dev Biol. 2016 Nov 15;419(2):237-249. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2016.09.010. Epub 2016 Sep 12.


MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that inhibit protein expression post-transcriptionally. They have been implicated in many different physiological processes, but little is known about their individual involvement in learning and memory. We recently identified several miRNAs that either increased or decreased intermediate-term memory when inhibited in the central nervous system, including miR-iab8-3p. We report here a new developmental role for this miRNA. Blocking the expression of miR-iab8-3p during the development of the organism leads to hypertrophy of individual mushroom body neuron soma, a reduction in the field size occupied by axonal projections, and adult intellectual disability. We further identified four potential mRNA targets of miR-iab8-3p whose inhibition modulates intermediate-term memory including ceramide phosphoethanolamine synthase, which may account for the behavioral effects produced by miR-iab8-3p inhibition. Our results offer important new information on a microRNA required for normal neurodevelopment and the capacity to learn and remember normally.

Keywords: Drosophila; Learning; Memory; MicroRNA; Mushroom bodies; Neurodevelopment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology*
  • Cell Size
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology
  • Electroshock
  • Female
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • MicroRNAs / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / physiology
  • Mushroom Bodies / embryology
  • Mushroom Bodies / growth & development
  • Mushroom Bodies / physiology*
  • Mushroom Bodies / ultrastructure
  • Neurons / ultrastructure*
  • Neuropil / ultrastructure
  • Odorants
  • RNA / antagonists & inhibitors
  • RNA Interference
  • Smell / physiology*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, recombinant
  • mir-iab8-3p, Drosophila
  • RNA