Members of the Ago (Argonaute) protein family are the mediators of small RNA-guided gene-silencing pathways including RNAi (RNA interference), translational regulation by miRNAs (microRNAs) and transcriptional silencing. Recent findings by Zeng et al. in this issue of the Biochemical Journal demonstrate that Ago proteins are post-translationally modified by phosphorylation of Ser387. Mutating Ser387 to alanine leads to reduced localization of human Ago2 to cytoplasmic P-bodies (processing bodies), cellular sites where RNA turnover and, at least in part, miRNA-guided gene regulation occurs. Zeng et al. further show that a member of the MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) signalling pathway phosphorylates Ago2 at Ser387, suggesting that Ago2-mediated gene silencing might be linked to distinct signalling pathways.

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