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Biochem J. 2008 Aug 1;413(3):e7-9. doi: 10.1042/BJ20081244.

Phosphorylation of Argonaute proteins: regulating gene regulators.

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Center for integrated protein Sciences Munich (CIPSM), Laboratory of RNA Biology, Max-Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Am Klopferspitz 18, 82152 Martinsried, Germany.


Members of the Ago (Argonaute) protein family are the mediators of small RNA-guided gene-silencing pathways including RNAi (RNA interference), translational regulation by miRNAs (microRNAs) and transcriptional silencing. Recent findings by Zeng et al. in this issue of the Biochemical Journal demonstrate that Ago proteins are post-translationally modified by phosphorylation of Ser(387). Mutating Ser(387) to alanine leads to reduced localization of human Ago2 to cytoplasmic P-bodies (processing bodies), cellular sites where RNA turnover and, at least in part, miRNA-guided gene regulation occurs. Zeng et al. further show that a member of the MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) signalling pathway phosphorylates Ago2 at Ser(387), suggesting that Ago2-mediated gene silencing might be linked to distinct signalling pathways.

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