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Mol Cell. 2011 Jul 8;43(1):110-21. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2011.05.028.

siRNA repositioning for guide strand selection by human Dicer complexes.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


The human ribonuclease Dicer and its double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-binding protein (dsRBP) partners TRBP and PACT play important roles in the biogenesis of regulatory RNAs. Following dicing, one dsRNA product strand is preferentially assembled into an RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC). The mechanism of strand selection in humans and the possible role of Dicer in this process remain unclear. Here we demonstrate that dsRNAs undergo significant repositioning within Dicer complexes following dicing. This repositioning enables directional binding of RNA duplexes, thereby biasing their orientation for guide strand selection according to the thermodynamic properties of the helix. Our findings indicate that Dicer is itself capable of sensing siRNA thermodynamic asymmetry regardless of the dsRBP to which it is bound. These results support a model in which Dicer employs two distinct RNA-binding sites-one for dsRNA processing and the other for sensing of siRNA thermodynamic asymmetry-during RISC loading in humans.

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