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Mol Cell. 2005 Aug 19;19(4):437-47.

The developmental timing regulator AIN-1 interacts with miRISCs and may target the argonaute protein ALG-1 to cytoplasmic P bodies in C. elegans.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado at Boulder, 80309, USA.


In metazoans, microRNAs (miRNAs) carry out various regulatory functions through association with multiprotein miRNA-induced silencing complexes (miRISCs) that contain Dicer and Argonaute proteins. How miRNAs regulate the expression of their mRNA targets remains a major research question. We have identified the C. elegans ain-1 gene through a genetic suppressor screen and shown that it functions with the heterochronic genetic pathway that regulates developmental timing. Biochemical analysis indicates that AIN-1 interacts with protein complexes containing an Argonaute protein, Dicer, and miRNAs. AIN-1 shares homology with the candidate human neurological disease protein GW182, shown to localize in cytoplasmic processing bodies that are sites of mRNA degradation and storage. A functional AIN-1::GFP also localizes at the likely worm processing bodies. When coexpressed from transgenes, AIN-1 targets ALG-1 to the foci. These results suggest a model where AIN-1 regulates a subset of miRISCs by localization to the processing bodies, facilitating degradation or translational inhibition of mRNA targets.

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