An ancient pan-cnidarian microRNA regulates stinging capsule biogenesis in Nematostella vectensis

Arie Fridrich*, Miguel Salinas-Saaverda, Itamar Kozlolvski, Joachim M. Surm, Eleni Chrysostomou, Abhinandan M. Tripathi, Uri Frank, Yehu Moran*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An ancient evolutionary innovation of a novel cell type, the stinging cell (cnidocyte), appeared >600 million years ago in the phylum Cnidaria (sea anemones, corals, hydroids, and jellyfish). A complex bursting nano-injector of venom, the cnidocyst, is embedded in cnidocytes and enables cnidarians to paralyze their prey and predators, contributing to this phylum's evolutionary success. In this work, we show that post-transcriptional regulation by a pan-cnidarian microRNA, miR-2022, is essential for biogenesis of these cells in the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis. By manipulation of miR-2022 levels in a transgenic reporter line of cnidocytes, followed by transcriptomics, single-cell data analysis, prey paralysis assays, and cell sorting of transgenic cnidocytes, we reveal that miR-2022 enables cnidocyte biogenesis in Nematostella, while exhibiting a conserved expression domain with its targets in cnidocytes of other cnidarian species. Thus, here we revealed a functional basis to the conservation of one of nature's most ancient microRNAs.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number113072
JournalCell Reports
Issue number9
StatePublished - 26 Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

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  • CP: Developmental biology
  • CP: Molecular biology
  • Cnidaria
  • Hydractinia
  • cnidocyte
  • microRNA
  • nematocyte Nematostella
  • post-transcriptional regulation


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