Argonaute bypasses cellular obstacles without hindrance during target search

Tao Ju Cui, Misha Klein, Jorrit W. Hegge, Stanley D. Chandradoss, John van der Oost, Martin Depken*, Chirlmin Joo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Argonaute (Ago) proteins are key players in both gene regulation (eukaryotes) and host defense (prokaryotes). Acting on single-stranded nucleic-acid substrates, Ago relies on base pairing between a small nucleic-acid guide and its complementary target sequences for specificity. To efficiently scan nucleic-acid chains for targets, Ago diffuses laterally along the substrate and must bypass secondary structures as well as protein barriers. Using single-molecule FRET in conjunction with kinetic modelling, we reveal that target scanning is mediated through loose protein-nucleic acid interactions, allowing Ago to slide short distances over secondary structures, as well as to bypass protein barriers via intersegmental transfer. Our combined single-molecule experiment and kinetic modelling approach may serve as a platform to dissect search processes and study the effect of sequence on search kinetics for other nucleic acid-guided proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4390
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sep 2019

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Argonaute bypasses cellular obstacles without hindrance during target search'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this