MicroRNAs (miRs) have an important role in tuning dynamic gene expression. However, the mechanism by which they are quantitatively controlled is unknown. We show that the amount of mature miR-9, a key regulator of neuronal development, increases during zebrafish neurogenesis in a sharp stepwise manner. We characterize the spatiotemporal profile of seven distinct microRNA primary transcripts (pri-mir)-9s that produce the same mature miR-9 and show that they are sequentially expressed during hindbrain neurogenesis. Expression of late-onset pri-mir-9-1 is added on to, rather than replacing, the expression of early onset pri-mir-9-4 and -9-5 in single cells. CRISPR/Cas9 mutation of the late-onset pri-mir-9-1 prevents the developmental increase of mature miR-9, reduces late neuronal differentiation and fails to downregulate Her6 at late stages. Mathematical modelling shows that an adaptive network containing Her6 is insensitive to linear increases in miR-9 but responds to stepwise increases of miR-9. We suggest that a sharp stepwise increase of mature miR-9 is created by sequential and additive temporal activation of distinct loci. This may be a strategy to overcome adaptation and facilitate a transition of Her6 to a new dynamic regime or steady state.
|Publication status||Published - 3 Oct 2022|
- Temporal control