Uncovering the cellular capacity for intensive and specific feedback self-control of the argonautes and MicroRNA targeting activity

Degeng Wang, Tingzeng Wang, Audrey Gill, Terrell Hilliard, Fengqian Chen, Andrey L. Karamyshev, Fangyuan Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The miRNA pathway has three segments-biogenesis, targeting and downstream regulatory effectors. We aimed to better understand their cellular control by exploring the miRNA-mRNA-targeting relationships. We first used human evolutionarily conserved sites. Strikingly, AGOs 1-3 are all among the top 14 mRNAs with the highest miRNA site counts, along with ANKRD52, the phosphatase regulatory subunit of the recently identified AGO phosphorylation cycle; and the AGO phosphorylation cycle mRNAs share much more than expected miRNA sites. The mRNAs for TNRC6, which acts with AGOs to channel miRNA-mediated regulatory actions onto specific mRNAs, are also heavily miRNA-targeted. In contrast, upstream miRNA biogenesis mRNAs are not, and neither are downstream regulatory effectors. In short, binding site enrichment in miRNA targeting machinery mRNAs, but neither upstream biogenesis nor downstream effector mRNAs, was observed, endowing a cellular capacity for intensive and specific feedback control of the targeting activity. The pattern was confirmed with experimentally determined miRNA-mRNA target relationships. Moreover, genetic experiments demonstrated cellular utilization of this capacity. Thus, we uncovered a capacity for intensive, and specific, feedback-regulation of miRNA targeting activity directly by miRNAs themselves, i.e. segment-specific feedback auto-regulation of miRNA pathway, complementing miRNAs pairing with transcription factors to form hybrid feedback-loop.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4681-4697
Number of pages17
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 21 2020

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