An mRNA m7G Cap Binding-like Motif within Human Ago2 Represses Translation

Marianthi Kiriakidou, Grace S. Tan, Styliani Lamprinaki, Mariangels De Planell-Saguer, Peter T. Nelson, Zissimos Mourelatos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

353 Scopus citations


microRNAs (miRNAs) bind to Argonaute (Ago) proteins and inhibit translation or promote degradation of mRNA targets. Human let-7 miRNA inhibits translation initiation of mRNA targets in an m7G cap-dependent manner and also appears to block protein production, but the molecular mechanism(s) involved is unknown and the role of Ago proteins in translational regulation remains elusive. Here we identify a motif (MC) within the Mid domain of Ago proteins, which bears significant similarity to the m7G cap-binding domain of eIF4E, an essential translation initiation factor. We identify conserved aromatic residues within the MC motif of human Ago2 that are required for binding to the m7G cap and for translational repression but do not affect the assembly of Ago2 with miRNA or its catalytic activity. We propose that Ago2 represses the initiation of mRNA translation by binding to the m7G cap of mRNA targets, thus likely precluding the recruitment of eIF4E.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1141-1151
Number of pages11
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 15 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Drs. R. Pillai, W. Filipowicz, and G. Hannon for plasmids, to Dr. G. Dreyfuss for the 4B10 antibody, and to members of our labs for insightful discussions. We are supported by NIH grants K08-AI63030 (M.K.); K08-NS050110 (P.T.N.); GM0720777, NS053839, P30-HD026979 (Z.M.); and by the Philadelphia Foundation (Z.M.). M.K. is a Pfizer Scholar.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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