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The agotrons: Gene regulators or Argonaute protectors?

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DOI

Over the last decades, it has become evident that highly complex networks of regulators govern post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. A novel class of Argonaute (Ago)-associated RNA molecules, the agotrons, was recently shown to function in a Drosha- and Dicer-independent manner, hence bypassing the maturation steps required for canonical microRNA (miRNA) biogenesis. Agotrons are found in most mammals and associate with Ago as ∼100 nucleotide (nt) long RNA species. Here, we speculate on the functional and biological relevance of agotrons: (i) agotrons could serve as non-promiscuous miRNA-like regulators with reduced off-targeting or (ii) agotrons could encompass other putative functions, such as protecting Ago proteins from taking up aberrant short RNAs or by rescuing and stabilizing otherwise unloaded Ago-proteins from degradation. Collectively, agotrons have emerged as a novel class of interesting non-coding RNA molecules, but their full functional potential and biological impact still remain to be disclosed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBioEssays
Volume39
Issue4
ISSN0265-9247
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2017

    Research areas

  • Journal Article, Review

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