Single-Molecule View of Small RNA-Guided Target Search and Recognition

Viktorija Globyte, Sung Hyun Kim, Chirlmin Joo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Most everyday processes in life involve a necessity for an entity to locate its target. On a cellular level, many proteins have to find their target to perform their function. From gene-expression regulation to DNA repair to host defense, numerous nucleic acid-interacting proteins use distinct target search mechanisms. Several proteins achieve that with the help of short RNA strands known as guides. This review focuses on single-molecule advances studying the target search and recognition mechanism of Argonaute and CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) systems. We discuss different steps involved in search and recognition, from the initial complex prearrangement into the target-search competent state to the final proofreading steps. We focus on target search mechanisms that range from weak interactions, to one- and three-dimensional diffusion, to conformational proofreading. We compare the mechanisms of Argonaute and CRISPR with a well-studied target search system, RecA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-593
Number of pages25
JournalAnnual Review of Biophysics
StatePublished - 20 May 2018

Bibliographical note

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© Copyright 2018 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.


  • RecA
  • microRNA
  • single-molecule
  • target search


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