RNA interference (RNAi), mediated by small non-coding RNAs (e.g., miRNAs, siRNAs), influences diverse cellular functions. Highly complementary miRNA-target RNA (or siRNA-target RNA) duplexes are recognized by an Argonaute family protein (Ago2), and recent observations indicate that the concentration of Mg2+ ions influences miRNA targeting of specific mRNAs, thereby modulating miRNA-mRNA networks. In the present report, we studied the thermodynamic effects of differential [Mg2+] on slicing (RNA silencing cycle) through molecular dynamics simulation analysis, and its subsequent statistical analysis. Those analyses revealed different structural conformations of the RNA duplex in Ago2, depending on Mg2+ concentration. We also demonstrate that cation effects on Ago2 structural flexibility are critical to its catalytic/functional activity, with low [Mg2+] favoring greater Ago2 flexibility (e.g., greater entropy) and less miRNA/mRNA duplex stability, thus favoring slicing. The latter finding was supported by a negative correlation between expression of an Mg2+ influx channel, TRPM7, and one miRNA's (miR-378) ability to downregulate its mRNA target, TMEM245. These results imply that thermodynamics could be applied to siRNA-based therapeutic strategies, using highly complementary binding targets, because Ago2 is also involved in RNAi slicing by exogenous siRNAs. However, the efficacy of a siRNA-based approach will differ, to some extent, based on the Mg2+ concentration even within the same disease type; therefore, different siRNA-based approaches might be considered for patient-to-patient needs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)