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Mol Cell Biol. 2015 Jul;35(13):2278-94.

Argonaute 2 Binds Directly to tRNA Genes and Promotes Gene Repression in cis.


To further our understanding of the RNAi machinery within the human nucleus, we analyzed the chromatin and RNA binding of Argonaute 2 (AGO2) within human cancer cell lines. Our data indicated that AGO2 binds directly to nascent tRNA and 5S rRNA, and to the genomic loci from which these RNAs are transcribed, in a small RNA- and DICER-independent manner. AGO2 chromatin binding was not observed at non-TFIIIC-dependent RNA polymerase III (Pol III) genes or at extra-TFIIIC (ETC) sites, indicating that the interaction is specific for TFIIIC-dependent Pol III genes. A genome-wide analysis indicated that loss of AGO2 caused a global increase in mRNA expression level among genes that flank AGO2-bound tRNA genes. This effect was shown to be distinct from that of the disruption of DICER, DROSHA, or CTCF. We propose that AGO2 binding to tRNA genes has a novel and important regulatory role in human cells.

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