Conformational Dynamics of Ago-Mediated Silencing Processes.
ABSTRACT: Argonaute (Ago) proteins are key players of nucleic acid-based interference mechanisms. Their domains and structural organization are widely conserved in all three domains of life. However, different Ago proteins display various substrate preferences. While some Ago proteins are able to use several substrates, others are limited to a single one. Thereby, they were demonstrated to act specifically on their preferred substrates. Here, we discuss mechanisms of Ago-mediated silencing in relation to structural and biochemical insights. The combination of biochemical and structural information enables detailed analyses of the complex dynamic interplay between Ago proteins and their substrates. Especially, transient binding data allow precise investigations of structural transitions taking place upon Ago-mediated guide and target binding.
Project description:The slicer activity of the RNA-induced silencing complex resides within its Argonaute (Ago) component, in which the PIWI domain provides the catalytic residues governing guide-strand mediated site-specific cleavage of target RNA. Here we report on structures of ternary complexes of Thermus thermophilus Ago catalytic mutants with 5'-phosphorylated 21-nucleotide guide DNA and complementary target RNAs of 12, 15 and 19 nucleotides in length, which define the molecular basis for Mg(2+)-facilitated site-specific cleavage of the target. We observe pivot-like domain movements within the Ago scaffold on proceeding from nucleation to propagation steps of guide-target duplex formation, with duplex zippering beyond one turn of the helix requiring the release of the 3'-end of the guide from the PAZ pocket. Cleavage assays on targets of various lengths supported this model, and sugar-phosphate-backbone-modified target strands showed the importance of structural and catalytic divalent metal ions observed in the crystal structures.
Project description:Argonaute (Ago) proteins are encoded in all three domains of life and are responsible for the regulation of intracellular nucleic acid levels. Whereas some Ago variants are able to cleave target nucleic acids by their endonucleolytic activity, others only bind to their target nucleic acids while target cleavage is mediated by other effector proteins. Although all Ago proteins show a high degree of overall structural homology, the nature of the nucleic acid binding partners differs significantly. Recent structural and functional data have provided intriguing new insights into the mechanisms of archaeal and bacterial Ago variants demonstrating the mechanistic diversity within the prokaryotic Ago family with astonishing differences in nucleic acid selection and nuclease specificity. In this review, we provide an overview of the structural organisation of archaeal Ago variants and discuss the current understanding of their biological functions that differ significantly from their eukaryotic counterparts.
Project description:Plant Dicer-like (DCL) and Argonaute (AGO) are the key enzymes involved in anti-virus post-transcriptional gene silencing (AV-PTGS). Here we show that AV-PTGS exhibited nucleotide preference by calculating a relative AV-PTGS efficiency on processing viral RNA substrates. In comparison with genome sequences of dicot-infecting Turnip mosaic virus (TuMV) and monocot-infecting Cocksfoot streak virus (CSV), viral-derived small interfering RNAs (vsiRNAs) displayed positive correlations between AV-PTGS efficiency and G+C content (GC%). Further investigations on nucleotide contents revealed that the vsiRNA populations had G-biases. This finding was further supported by our analyses of previously reported vsiRNA populations in diverse plant-virus associations, and AGO associated Arabidopsis endogenous siRNA populations, indicating that plant AGOs operated with G-preference. We further propose a hypothesis that AV-PTGS imposes selection pressure(s) on the evolution of plant viruses. This hypothesis was supported when potyvirus genomes were analysed for evidence of GC elimination, suggesting that plant virus evolution to have low GC% genomes would have a unique function, which is to reduce the host AV-PTGS attack during infections.
Project description:Using a transient plant system, it was previously found that the suppression of Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) 2b protein relies on its double-strand (ds) RNA binding capacity, but it is independent of its interaction with ARGONAUTE (AGO) proteins. Thus, the biological meaning of the 2b-AGO interaction in the context of virus infection remains elusive. In this study, we created infectious clones of CMV mutants that expressed the 2b functional domains of dsRNA or AGO binding and tested the effect of these CMV mutants on viral pathogenicity. We found that the mutant CMV2b(1-76) expressing the 2b dsRNA-binding domain exhibited the same virulence as wild-type CMV in infection with either wild-type Arabidopsis or rdr1/6 plants with RDR1- and RDR6-deficient mutations. However, remarkably reduced viral RNA levels and increased virus (v)siRNAs were detected in CMV2b(1-76)-infected Arabidopsis in comparison to CMV infection, which demonstrated that the 2b(1-76) deleted AGO-binding domain failed to suppress the RDR1/RDR6-dependent degradation of viral RNAs. The mutant CMV2b(8-111) expressing mutant 2b, in which the N-terminal 7 amino acid (aa) was deleted, exhibited slightly reduced virulence, but not viral RNA levels, in both wild-type and rdr1/6 plants, which indicated that 2b retained the AGO-binding activity acquired the counter-RDRs degradation of viral RNAs. The deletion of the N-terminal 7 aa of 2b affected virulence due to the reduced affinity for long dsRNA. The mutant CMV2b(18-111) expressing mutant 2b lacked the N-terminal 17 aa but retained its AGO-binding activity greatly reduced virulence and viral RNA level. Together with the instability of both 2b(18-111)-EGFP and RFP-AGO4 proteins when co-expressed in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves, our data demonstrates that the effect of 2b-AGO interaction on counter-RDRs antiviral defense required the presence of 2b dsRNA-binding activity. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that the dsRNA-binding activity of the 2b was essential for virulence, whereas the 2b-AGO interaction was necessary for interference with RDR1/6-dependent antiviral silencing in Arabidopsis.
Project description:AGO/RISC-mediated antiviral RNA silencing, an important component of the plant's immune response against RNA virus infections, was recapitulated in vitro. Cytoplasmic extracts of tobacco protoplasts were applied that supported Tombusvirus RNA replication, as well as the formation of RNA-induced silencing complexes (RISC) that could be functionally reconstituted with various plant ARGONAUTE (AGO) proteins. For example, when RISC containing AGO1, 2, 3 or 5 were programmed with exogenous siRNAs that specifically targeted the viral RNA, endonucleolytic cleavages occurred and viral replication was inhibited. Antiviral RNA silencing was disabled by the viral silencing suppressor p19 when this was present early during RISC formation. Notably, with replicating viral RNA, only (+)RNA molecules were accessible to RISC, whereas (-)RNA replication intermediates were not. The vulnerability of viral RNAs to RISC activity also depended on the RNA structure of the target sequence. This was most evident when we characterized viral siRNAs (vsiRNAs) that were particularly effective in silencing with AGO1- or AGO2/RISC. These vsiRNAs targeted similar sites, suggesting that accessible parts of the viral (+)RNA may be collectively attacked by different AGO/RISC. The in vitro system was, hence, established as a valuable tool to define and characterize individual molecular determinants of antiviral RNA silencing.
Project description:During microRNA (miRNA)-guided gene silencing, Argonaute (Ago) proteins interact with a member of the TNRC6/GW protein family. Here we used a short GW protein-derived peptide fused to GST and demonstrate that it binds to Ago proteins with high affinity. This allows for the simultaneous isolation of all Ago protein complexes expressed in diverse species to identify associated proteins, small RNAs, or target mRNAs. We refer to our method as "Ago protein Affinity Purification by Peptides" (Ago-APP). Furthermore, expression of this peptide competes for endogenous TNRC6 proteins, leading to global inhibition of miRNA function in mammalian cells.
Project description: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.
Project description:In addition to mediating regulation of endogenous gene expression, RNA interference (RNAi) in plants and invertebrates plays a crucial role in defense against viruses via virus-specific siRNAs. Different studies have demonstrated that the functional diversity of RNAi in animals is linked to the diversification of the Argonaute superfamily, central components of RISCs (RNA induced silencing complexes). The animal Argonaute superfamily is traditionally grouped into AGO and PIWI Argonautes. Yet, by performing phylogenetic analyses and determining the selective evolutionary pressure in the metazoan Argonaute superfamily, we provide evidence for the existence of three conserved Argonaute lineages between basal metazoans and protostomes, namely siRNA-class AGO, miRNA-class AGO and PIWI Argonautes. In addition, it shown that the siRNA-class AGO lineage is characterized by high rates of molecular evolution, suggesting a role in the arms race with viruses, while the miRNA-class AGOs display strong sequence conservation. Interestingly, we also demonstrate that vertebrates lack siRNA-class AGO proteins and that vertebrate AGOs display low rates of molecular evolution. In this way, we provide supportive evidence for the loss of the antiviral siRNA-class AGO group in vertebrates and discuss the consequence hereof on antiviral immunity and the use of RNAi as a loss of function tool in these animals.
Project description:MicroRNAs (miRNAs) post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression by binding to target mRNAs with perfect or imperfect complementarity, recruiting an Argonaute (AGO) protein complex that usually results in degradation or translational repression of the target mRNA. AGO proteins function as the Slicer enzyme in miRNA and small interfering RNA (siRNA) pathways involved in human physiological and pathophysiological processes, such as antiviral responses and disease formation. Although the past decade has witnessed rapid advancement in studies of AGO protein functions, to further elucidate the molecular mechanism of AGO proteins in cellular function and biochemical process is really a challenging area for researchers. In order to understand the molecular causes underlying the pathological processes, we mainly focus on five fundamental problems of AGO proteins, including evolution, functional domain, subcellular location, post-translational modification and protein-protein interactions. Our discussion highlight their roles in early diagnosis, disease prevention, drug target identification, drug response, etc.
Project description:The nucleolytic activity of animal Argonaute proteins is deeply conserved, despite its having no obvious role in microRNA-directed gene regulation. In mice, Ago2 (also known as Eif2c2) is uniquely required for viability, and only this family member retains catalytic competence. To investigate the evolutionary pressure to conserve Argonaute enzymatic activity, we engineered a mouse with catalytically inactive Ago2 alleles. Homozygous mutants died shortly after birth with an obvious anaemia. Examination of microRNAs and their potential targets revealed a loss of miR-451, a small RNA important for erythropoiesis. Though this microRNA is processed by Drosha (also known as Rnasen), its maturation does not require Dicer. Instead, the pre-miRNA becomes loaded into Ago and is cleaved by the Ago catalytic centre to generate an intermediate 3' end, which is then further trimmed. Our findings link the conservation of Argonaute catalysis to a conserved mechanism of microRNA biogenesis that is important for vertebrate development.