Approaching the Golden Fleece a Molecule at a Time: Biophysical Insights into Argonaute-Instructed Nucleic Acid Interactions

Mol Cell. 2015 Jul 2;59(1):4-7. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2015.06.021.


Argonaute proteins act at the core of nucleic acid-guided interference pathways that regulate gene expression and defend organisms against foreign genetic elements in all domains of life. Here, we review recent biophysical studies on how Argonaute proteins instruct oligonucleotides in the process of target finding, binding, cleavage, and release, as measured at high spatiotemporal resolution by single-molecule approaches. In the context of previous structural, biochemical, and computational studies, a model emerges for how Argonaute proteins manipulate the thermodynamic rules for nucleic acid hybridization to convey efficiency and specificity to RNA- and DNA-guided regulatory processes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Argonaute Proteins / genetics*
  • DNA / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization / genetics*
  • Oligonucleotides / genetics*
  • RNA / genetics
  • Thermodynamics


  • Argonaute Proteins
  • Oligonucleotides
  • RNA
  • DNA