Argonaute (Ago) proteins are of key importance in many cellular processes. In eukaryotes, Ago can induce translational repression followed by deadenylation and degradation of mRNA molecules through base pairing of microRNAs (miRNAs) with a complementary target on a mRNA sequence. In bacteria, Ago eliminates foreign DNA through base pairing of siDNA (small interfering DNA) with a target on a DNA sequence. Effective targeting activities of Ago require fast recognition of the cognate target sequence among numerous off-target sites. Other target search proteins such as transcription factors (TFs) are known to rely on facilitated diffusion for this goal, but it is undetermined to what extent these small nucleic acid-guided proteins utilize this mechanism. Here, we review recent single-molecule studies on Ago target search. We discuss the consequences of the recent findings on the search mechanism. Furthermore, we discuss the open standing research questions that need to be addressed for a complete picture of facilitated target search by small nucleic acids.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
C.J. was supported by Vidi (864.014.002) of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific research Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek [864.14.002].
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