From the Argonauts Mythological Sailors to the Argonautes RNA-Silencing Navigators: Their Emerging Roles in Human-Cell Pathologies.
ABSTRACT: Regulation of gene expression has emerged as a fundamental element of transcript homeostasis. Key effectors in this process are the Argonautes (AGOs), highly specialized RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) that form complexes, such as the RNA-Induced Silencing Complex (RISC). AGOs dictate post-transcriptional gene-silencing by directly loading small RNAs and repressing their mRNA targets through small RNA-sequence complementarity. The four human highly-conserved family-members (AGO1, AGO2, AGO3, and AGO4) demonstrate multi-faceted and versatile roles in transcriptome's stability, plasticity, and functionality. The post-translational modifications of AGOs in critical amino acid residues, the nucleotide polymorphisms and mutations, and the deregulation of expression and interactions are tightly associated with aberrant activities, which are observed in a wide spectrum of pathologies. Through constantly accumulating information, the AGOs' fundamental engagement in multiple human diseases has recently emerged. The present review examines new insights into AGO-driven pathology and AGO-deregulation patterns in a variety of diseases such as in viral infections and propagations, autoimmune diseases, cancers, metabolic deficiencies, neuronal disorders, and human infertility. Altogether, AGO seems to be a crucial contributor to pathogenesis and its targeting may serve as a novel and powerful therapeutic tool for the successful management of diverse human diseases in the clinic.
Project description:Argonautes (AGOs) are the effector proteins of the RNA-induced silencing (RISC) complex, formed during the phenomena of small-RNA mediated post-transcriptional gene silencing. AGOs are a large family of proteins; their number varies from a few (4 in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii) to many (18 in Oryza sativa) in plants. Genetics-guided analysis have demonstrated the roles of some of the AGOs during growth and development of plants. Biochemical studies have further revealed differences in functional specificities among AGOs. How the AGO family expanded in different plant species during the course of evolution is starting to emerge. We hypothesized that 4 classes of AGOs evolved after divergence of unicellular green algae when an ancestral AGO underwent duplication events. Evolution of multicellularity may have coincided with the diversification of AGOs. A comparative sequence and structure analysis of the plant AGOs, including those from the mosses and the unicellular algae, show not only conformational differences between those from lower and higher plants, but also functional divergence of important sites.
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:In the last decade, many diverse RNAi (RNA interference) pathways have been discovered that mediate gene silencing at epigenetic, transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. The diversity of RNAi pathways is inherently linked to the evolution of Ago (Argonaute) proteins, the central protein component of RISCs (RNA-induced silencing complexes). An increasing number of diverse Agos have been identified in different species. The functions of most of these proteins are not yet known, but they are generally assumed to play roles in development, genome stability and/or protection against viruses. Recent research in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has expanded the breadth of RNAi functions to include transgenerational epigenetic memory and, possibly, environmental sensing. These functions are inherently linked to the production of secondary siRNAs (small interfering RNAs) that bind to members of a clade of WAGOs (worm-specific Agos). In the present article, we review briefly what is known about the evolution and function of Ago proteins in eukaryotes, including the expansion of WAGOs in nematodes. We postulate that the rapid evolution of WAGOs enables the exceptional functional plasticity of nematodes, including their capacity for parasitism.
Project description:MicroRNAs and siRNAs interact with target sequences in mRNAs, inducing cleavage- and non-cleavage-based gene repression through the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) that consists of one of four mammalian Argonaute proteins, Ago1-Ago4. The process of how Dicer substrate small hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) are loaded into different mammalian Agos in vivo is not well established. Here we report that shRNAs are loaded into mammalian Agos in two stepwise processes, physical association and activation, with the latter being the rate-limiting step with noncleaving RISC. We establish that, although RNA duplexes processed from shRNAs bind to Agos in cells with similar affinity, the degree by which the complexes are activated (coupled with the removal of the passenger strand) correlates with the thermodynamic instability of RNA duplexes being loaded rather than the structure of the RNA, as was previously demonstrated in Drosophila. Interestingly, Ago loading of siRNAs is less sensitive to thermostability than that of their shRNA equivalents. These results may have important implications for the future design of RNAi-based therapeutics.
Project description:We report structural, functional, and biochemical similarities between Argonautes, the effector proteins of RNA-induced silencing complexes (RISCs), and alpha-sarcin-like ribotoxins. At the structural level, regions of similarity in the amino acid sequence are located in protein loops both in the ribotoxins and in the Argonautes. In ribotoxins, these protein loops confer specificity for a highly conserved segment of ribosomal RNA, the Sarcin-Ricin-Loop (SRL) that undergoes cleavage by the ribotoxin ribonuclease. This leads to suppression of translation. In addition to the structural similarity with ribotoxins, the Argonaute proteins (Ago) show both functional and biochemical parallels. Like the ribotoxins, the Agos exhibit ribonuclease activity and like the ribotoxins, translational suppression mediated by miRISC-resident Ago is accompanied by intact polysomes. Furthermore, in both translationally suppressed systems, the puromycin reaction, reflecting correct translocation and peptidyl-transferase activities, is unharmed. These findings support a mechanism for Ago-miRISCs whereby regulated cleavage of ribosomal RNA leads to translational suppression.
Project description:The identification of viroid-derived small RNAs (vd-sRNAs) of 21 to 24 nucleotides (nt) in plants infected by viroids (infectious non-protein-coding RNAs of just 250 to 400 nt) supports their targeting by Dicer-like enzymes, the first host RNA-silencing barrier. However, whether viroids, like RNA viruses, are also targeted by the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) remains controversial. At the RISC core is one Argonaute (AGO) protein that, guided by endogenous or viral sRNAs, targets complementary RNAs. To examine whether AGO proteins also load vd-sRNAs, leaves of Nicotiana benthamiana infected by potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd) were agroinfiltrated with plasmids expressing epitope-tagged versions of AGO1, AGO2, AGO3, AGO4, AGO5, AGO6, AGO7, AGO9, and AGO10 from Arabidopsis thaliana. Immunoprecipitation analyses of the agroinfiltrated halos revealed that all AGOs except AGO6, AGO7, and AGO10 associated with vd-sRNAs: AGO1, AGO2, and AGO3 preferentially with those of 21 and 22 nt, while AGO4, AGO5, and AGO9 additionally bound those of 24 nt. Deep-sequencing analyses showed that sorting of vd-sRNAs into AGO1, AGO2, AGO4, and AGO5 depended essentially on their 5'-terminal nucleotides, with the profiles of the corresponding AGO-loaded vd-sRNAs adopting specific hot spot distributions along the viroid genome. Furthermore, agroexpression of AGO1, AGO2, AGO4, and AGO5 on PSTVd-infected tissue attenuated the level of the genomic RNAs, suggesting that they, or their precursors, are RISC targeted. In contrast to RNA viruses, PSTVd infection of N. benthamiana did not affect miR168-mediated regulation of the endogenous AGO1, which loaded vd-sRNAs with specificity similar to that of its A. thaliana counterpart. Importance: To contain invaders, particularly RNA viruses, plants have evolved an RNA-silencing mechanism relying on the generation by Dicer-like (DCL) enzymes of virus-derived small RNAs of 21 to 24 nucleotides (nt) that load and guide Argonaute (AGO) proteins to target and repress viral RNA. Viroids, despite their minimal genomes (non-protein-coding RNAs of only 250 to 400 nt), infect and incite disease in plants. The accumulation in these plants of 21- to 24-nt viroid-derived small RNAs (vd-sRNAs) supports the notion that DCLs also target viroids but does not clarify whether vd-sRNAs activate one or more AGOs. Here, we show that in leaves of Nicotiana benthamiana infected by potato spindle tuber viroid, the endogenous AGO1 and distinct AGOs from Arabidopsis thaliana that were overexpressed were associated with vd-sRNAs displaying the same properties (5'-terminal nucleotide and size) previously established for endogenous and viral small RNAs. Overexpression of AGO1, AGO2, AGO4, and AGO5 attenuated viroid accumulation, supporting their role in antiviroid defense.
Project description:Gametogenesis is a thermosensitive process in numerous metazoans, ranging from worms to man. In Caenorhabditis elegans, a variety of RNA-binding proteins that associate with germ-line nuage (P granules), including the Piwi-clade argonaute PRG-1, have been implicated in maintaining fertility at elevated temperature. Here we describe the role of two AGO-class paralogs, alg-3 (T22B3.2) and alg-4 (ZK757.3), in promoting thermotolerant male fertility. A rescuing GFP::alg-3 transgene is localized to P granules beginning at the late pachytene stage of male gametogenesis. alg-3/4 double mutants lack a subgroup of small RNAs, the 26G-RNAs which target and appear to down-regulate numerous spermatogenesis-expressed mRNAs. These findings add to a growing number of AGO pathways required for thermotolerant fertility in C. elegans and support a model in which AGOs and their small RNA cofactors function to promote robustness in gene-expression networks.
Project description:The miRNA pathway has three segments-biogenesis, targeting and downstream regulatory effectors. We aimed to better understand their cellular control by exploring the miRNA-mRNA-targeting relationships. We first used human evolutionarily conserved sites. Strikingly, AGOs 1-3 are all among the top 14 mRNAs with the highest miRNA site counts, along with ANKRD52, the phosphatase regulatory subunit of the recently identified AGO phosphorylation cycle; and the AGO phosphorylation cycle mRNAs share much more than expected miRNA sites. The mRNAs for TNRC6, which acts with AGOs to channel miRNA-mediated regulatory actions onto specific mRNAs, are also heavily miRNA-targeted. In contrast, upstream miRNA biogenesis mRNAs are not, and neither are downstream regulatory effectors. In short, binding site enrichment in miRNA targeting machinery mRNAs, but neither upstream biogenesis nor downstream effector mRNAs, was observed, endowing a cellular capacity for intensive and specific feedback control of the targeting activity. The pattern was confirmed with experimentally determined miRNA-mRNA target relationships. Moreover, genetic experiments demonstrated cellular utilization of this capacity. Thus, we uncovered a capacity for intensive, and specific, feedback-regulation of miRNA targeting activity directly by miRNAs themselves, i.e. segment-specific feedback auto-regulation of miRNA pathway, complementing miRNAs pairing with transcription factors to form hybrid feedback-loop.
Project description:RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) plays a critical role in small interfering RNA (siRNA) and microRNAs (miRNA) pathways. Accumulating evidence has demonstrated that the major RISC members (AGO, DICER, TRBP, PACT and GW182) represent expression discrepancies or multiple orthologues/paralogues in different species. To elucidate their evolutionary characteristics, an integrated evolutionary analysis was performed. Here, animal and plant AGOs were divided into three classes (multifunctional AGOs, siRNA-associated AGOs and piRNA-associated AGOs for animal AGOs and multifunctional AGOs, siRNA-associated AGOs and complementary functioning AGOs for plant AGOs). Animal and plant DICERs were grouped into one class (multifunctional DICERs) and two classes (multifunctional DICERs and siRNA-associated DICERs), respectively. Protista/fungi AGOs or DICERs were specifically associated with the siRNA pathway. Additionally, TRBP/PACT/GW182 were identified only in animals, and all of them functioned in the miRNA pathway. Mammalian AGOs, animal DICERs and chordate TRBP/PACT were found to be monophyletic. A large number of gene duplications were identified in AGO and DICER groups. Taken together, we provide a comprehensive evolutionary analysis, describe a phylogenetic tree-based classification of the major RISC members and quantify their gene duplication events. These findings are potentially useful for classifying RISCs, optimizing species-specific RISCs and developing research model organisms.
Project description:It is commonly known that mammalian microRNAs (miRNAs) guide the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) to target mRNAs through the seed-pairing rule. However, recent experiments that coimmunoprecipitate the Argonaute proteins (AGOs), the central catalytic component of RISC, have consistently revealed extensive AGO-associated mRNAs that lack seed complementarity with miRNAs. We herein test the hypothesis that AGO has its own binding preference within target mRNAs, independent of guide miRNAs. By systematically analyzing the data from in vivo cross-linking experiments with human AGOs, we have identified a structurally accessible and evolutionarily conserved region (?10 nucleotides in length) that alone can accurately predict AGO-mRNA associations, independent of the presence of miRNA binding sites. Within this region, we further identified an enriched motif that was replicable on independent AGO-immunoprecipitation data sets. We used RNAcompete to enumerate the RNA-binding preference of human AGO2 to all possible 7-mer RNA sequences and validated the AGO motif in vitro. These findings reveal a novel function of AGOs as sequence-specific RNA-binding proteins, which may aid miRNAs in recognizing their targets with high specificity.