Most human genes are associated with promoters embedded in non-methylated, G + C-rich CpG islands (CGIs). Not all CGIs are found at annotated promoters, however, raising the possibility that many serve as promoters for transcripts that do not code for proteins. To test this hypothesis, we searched for novel transcripts in embryonic stem cells (ESCs) that originate within orphan CGIs. Among several candidates, we detected a transcript that included three members of the let-7 micro-RNA family: Let-7a-1, let-7f-1, and let-7d. Deletion of the CGI prevented expression of the precursor RNA and depleted the included miRNAs. Mice homozygous for this mutation were sub-viable and showed growth and other defects. The results suggest that despite the identity of their seed sequences, members of the let-7 miRNA family exert distinct functions that cannot be complemented by other members.
- mouse genetics