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Both eukaryotes and prokaryotes (archaea and bacteria) encode an arsenal of immune systems that protect the host against mobile genetic elements (MGEs) including viruses, plasmids, and transposons. Whereas Argonaute proteins (Agos) are best known for post-transcriptional gene silencing in eukaryotes, in all domains of life, members from the highly diverse Argonaute protein family act as programmable immune systems. To this end, Agos are programmed with small single-stranded RNA or DNA guides to detect and silence complementary MGEs. Across and within the different domains of life, Agos function in distinct pathways and MGE detection can trigger various mechanisms that provide immunity. In this review, we delineate the diverse immune pathways and underlying mechanisms for both eukaryotic Argonautes (eAgos) and prokaryotic Argonautes (pAgos).
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