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Nucleic Acids Res. 2019 Jun 20;47(11):5822-5836. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkz379.

Programmable DNA cleavage by Ago nucleases from mesophilic bacteria Clostridium butyricum and Limnothrix rosea.

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Institute of Molecular Genetics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow 123182, Russia.
Department of Molecular Biology, Biological Faculty, Moscow State University, Moscow 119991, Russia.
Division of Biology and Biological Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.


Argonaute (Ago) proteins are key players in RNA interference in eukaryotes, where they function as RNA-guided RNA endonucleases. Prokaryotic Argonautes (pAgos) are much more diverse than their eukaryotic counterparts but their cellular functions and mechanisms of action remain largely unknown. Some pAgos were shown to use small DNA guides for endonucleolytic cleavage of complementary DNA in vitro. However, previously studied pAgos from thermophilic prokaryotes function at elevated temperatures, which limits their potential use as a tool in genomic applications. Here, we describe two pAgos from mesophilic bacteria, Clostridium butyricum (CbAgo) and Limnothrix rosea (LrAgo), that act as DNA-guided DNA nucleases at physiological temperatures. In comparison with previously studied pAgos, CbAgo and LrAgo do not show strong preferences for the 5'-nucleotide in guide DNA and can use not only 5'-phosphorylated but also 5'-hydroxyl DNA guides. Both CbAgo and LrAgo can tolerate guide/target mismatches in the seed region, but are sensitive to mismatches in the 3'-guide region. Both pAgos can perform programmable endonucleolytic cleavage of double-stranded DNA substrates, showing enhanced activity at AT-rich regions and at elevated temperatures. The biochemical characterization of mesophilic pAgo proteins paves the way for their use for DNA manipulations both in vitro and in vivo.

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