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J Biol Chem. 2013 Mar 15;288(11):7829-40. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.441030. Epub 2013 Jan 17.

Regulation of Argonaute slicer activity by guide RNA 3' end interactions with the N-terminal lobe.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Structural studies indicate that binding of both the guide RNA (siRNA and miRNA) and the target mRNA trigger substantial conformational changes in the Argonaute proteins. Here we explore the role of the N-terminal lobe (and its PAZ domain) in these conformational changes using biochemical and cell culture-based approaches. In vitro, whereas deletion (or mutation) of the N-terminal lobe of DmAgo1 and DmAgo2 had no effect on binding affinity to guide RNAs, we observed a loss of protection of the 3' end of the guide RNA and decreased target RNA binding; consistent with this, in cells, loss of function DmAgo1 PAZ variant proteins (PAZ6 and ΔN-PAZ) still bind RNA, although the RNAs are shorter than normal. We also find that deletion of the N-terminal lobe results in constitutive activation of endogenous PIWI domain-based cleavage activity in vitro, providing insights into how cleavage activity may be regulated in vivo in response to different types of pairing interactions with the target mRNAs.

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