Argonaute proteins: key players in RNA silencing

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2008 Jan;9(1):22-32. doi: 10.1038/nrm2321.


During the past decade, small non-coding RNAs have rapidly emerged as important contributors to gene regulation. To carry out their biological functions, these small RNAs require a unique class of proteins called Argonautes. The discovery and our comprehension of this highly conserved protein family is closely linked to the study of RNA-based gene silencing mechanisms. With their functional domains, Argonaute proteins can bind small non-coding RNAs and control protein synthesis, affect messenger RNA stability and even participate in the production of a new class of small RNAs, Piwi-interacting RNAs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Argonaute Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology*
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-2 / physiology*
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factors
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Germ Cells / physiology
  • Humans
  • Plants
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / physiology
  • RNA Interference*
  • RNA Stability / physiology
  • RNA, Small Interfering / physiology
  • RNA, Untranslated / physiology*


  • AGO1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • AGO1 protein, Drosophila
  • AGO2 protein, human
  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Argonaute Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-2
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factors
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • RNA, Untranslated