, Volume 21, Issue 6-7, pp 573-586
Date: 01 Nov 2013

A multitasking Argonaute: exploring the many facets of C. elegans CSR-1

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While initial studies of small RNA-mediated gene regulatory pathways focused on the cytoplasmic functions of such pathways, identifying roles for Argonaute/small RNA pathways in modulating chromatin and organizing the genome has become a topic of intense research in recent years. Nuclear regulatory mechanisms for Argonaute/small RNA pathways appear to be widespread, in organisms ranging from plants to fission yeast, Caenorhabditis elegans to humans. As the effectors of small RNA-mediated gene regulatory pathways, Argonaute proteins guide the chromatin-directed activities of these pathways. Of particular interest is the C. elegans Argonaute, chromosome segregation and RNAi deficient (CSR-1), which has been implicated in such diverse functions as organizing the holocentromeres of worm chromosomes, modulating germline chromatin, protecting the genome from foreign nucleic acid, regulating histone levels, executing RNAi, and inhibiting translation in conjunction with Pumilio proteins. CSR-1 interacts with small RNAs known as 22G-RNAs, which have complementarity to 25 % of the protein coding genes. This peculiar Argonaute is the only essential C. elegans Argonaute out of 24 family members in total. Here, we summarize the current understanding of CSR-1 functions in the worm, with emphasis on the chromatin-directed activities of this ever-intriguing Argonaute.

Responsible Editors: Brian P. Chadwick, Kristin C. Scott, and Beth A. Sullivan.
C. J. Wedeles and M. Z. Wu contributed equally.