Why Argonaute is needed to make microRNA target search fast and reliable

Misha Klein, Stanley D. Chandradoss, Martin Depken, Chirlmin Joo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


MicroRNA (miRNA) interferes with the translation of cognate messenger RNA (mRNA) by finding, preferentially binding, and marking it for degradation. To facilitate the search process, Argonaute (Ago) proteins come together with miRNA, forming a dynamic search complex. In this review we use the language of free-energy landscapes to discuss recent single-molecule and high-resolution structural data in the light of theoretical work appropriated from the study of transcription-factor search. We suggest that experimentally observed internal states of the Ago-miRNA search complex may have the explicit biological function of speeding up search while maintaining specificity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-28
Number of pages9
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
StatePublished - May 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Authors


  • Argonaute
  • FRET
  • Free-energy landscape
  • Lateral diffusion
  • MicroRNA target prediction
  • RNA silencing
  • Search stability paradox
  • Single molecule
  • Target Search
  • Theoretical model
  • miRNA


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