Somatic adult stem cell lineages in high-turnover tissues are under tight gene regulatory control. Like its mammalian counterpart, the Drosophila intestine precisely adjusts the rate of stem cell division with the onset of differentiation based on physiological demand. Although Notch signaling is indispensable for these decisions, the regulation of Notch activity that drives the differentiation of stem cell progenies into functional, mature cells is not well understood. Here, we report that commitment to the terminally differentiated enterocyte (EC) cell fate is under microRNA control. We show that an intestinally enriched microRNA, miR-956, fine-tunes Notch signaling activity specifically in intermediate, enteroblast (EB) progenitor cells to control EC differentiation. We further identify insensitive mRNA as a target of miR-956 that regulates EB/EC ratios by repressing Notch activity in EBs. In summary, our study highlights a post-transcriptional gene-regulatory mechanism for controlling differentiation in an adult intestinal stem cell lineage.
Keywords: CP: Molecular biology; CP: Stem cell research; Notch; homeostasis; insensitive; insensitivemidgut; miR-956; microRNA.
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