UMMS Affiliation

Program in Molecular Medicine; RNA Therapeutics Institute

Publication Date


Document Type



Biochemistry | Developmental Biology | Molecular Biology | Molecular Genetics


MicroRNAs guide many aspects of development in all metazoan species. Frequently, microRNAs are expressed during a specific developmental stage to perform a temporally defined function. The C. elegans mir-35-42 microRNAs are expressed abundantly in oocytes and early embryos and are essential for embryonic development. Here, we show that these embryonic microRNAs surprisingly also function to control the number of progeny produced by adult hermaphrodites. Using a temperature-sensitive mir-35-42 family mutant (a deletion of the mir-35-41 cluster), we demonstrate three distinct defects in hermaphrodite fecundity. At permissive temperatures, a mild sperm defect partially reduces hermaphrodite fecundity. At restrictive temperatures, somatic gonad dysfunction combined with a severe sperm defect sharply reduces fecundity. Multiple lines of evidence, including a late embryonic temperature-sensitive period, support a role for mir-35-41 early during development to promote subsequent sperm production in later larval stages. We further show that the predicted mir-35 family target sup-26 (suppressor-26) acts downstream of mir-35-41 in this process, suggesting that sup-26 de-repression in mir-35-41 deletion mutants may contribute to temperature-sensitive loss of fecundity. In addition, these microRNAs play a role in male fertility, promoting proper morphogenesis of male-specific mating structures. Overall, our results demonstrate that robust activity of the mir-35-42 family microRNAs not only is essential for embryonic development across a range of temperatures but also enables the worm to subsequently develop full reproductive capacity.


fertility, germline, male fertility, maternal effect, sperm

DOI of Published Version



G3 (Bethesda). 2014 Jul 21;4(9):1747-54. doi: 10.1534/g3.114.011973. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

G3 (Bethesda, Md.)

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.