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From the Argonauts Mythological Sailors to the Argonautes RNA-Silencing Navigators: Their Emerging Roles in Human-Cell Pathologies


Vasiliki I. Pantazopoulou, Stella Georgiou, Panos Kakoulidis, Stavroula N. Giannakopoulou, Sofia Tseleni, Dimitrios J. Stravopodis, Ema Anastasiadou

Regulation of gene expression has emerged as a fundamental element of transcript homeostasis. Key effectors in this process are the Argonautes (AGOs), highly specialized RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) that form complexes, such as the RNA-Induced Silencing Complex (RISC). AGOs dictate post-transcriptional gene-silencing by directly loading small RNAs and repressing their mRNA targets through small RNA-sequence complementarity. The four human highly-conserved family-members (AGO1, AGO2, AGO3, and AGO4) demonstrate multi-faceted and versatile roles in transcriptome’s stability, plasticity, and functionality. The post-translational modifications of AGOs in critical amino acid residues, the nucleotide polymorphisms and mutations, and the deregulation of expression and interactions are tightly associated with aberrant activities, which are observed in a wide spectrum of pathologies. Through constantly accumulating information, the AGOs’ fundamental engagement in multiple human diseases has recently emerged. The present review examines new insights into AGO-driven pathology and AGO-deregulation patterns in a variety of diseases such as in viral infections and propagations, autoimmune diseases, cancers, metabolic deficiencies, neuronal disorders, and human infertility. Altogether, AGO seems to be a crucial contributor to pathogenesis and its targeting may serve as a novel and powerful therapeutic tool for the successful management of diverse human diseases in the clinic. 

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