Acetylation of AGO2 promotes cancer progression by increasing oncogenic miR-19b biogenesis

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Argonaute2 (AGO2) is an effector of small RNA mediated gene silencing. Increasing evidence show that post-translational modifications of AGO2 can change miRNA activity at specific or global levels. Among the six mature miRNAs that are encoded by miR-17-92, miR-19b1 is the most powerful to exert the oncogenic properties of the entire cluster. Here we identify that AGO2 can be acetylated by P300/CBP and deacetylated by HDAC7, and that acetylation occurs at three sites K720, K493, and K355. Mutation of K493R/K720R, but not K355R at AGO2, inhibits miR-19b biogenesis. We demonstrate that acetylation of AGO2 specifically increases its recruiting pre-miR-19b1 to form the miPDC (miRNA precursor deposit complex), thereby to enhance miR-19b maturation. The motif UGUGUG in the terminal-loop of pre-miR-19b1, as a specific processing feature that is recognized and bound by acetylated AGO2, is essential for the assembly of miRISC (miRNA-induced silencing complex) loading complex. Analyses on public clinical data, xenograft mouse models, and IHC and ISH staining of lung cancer tissues, further confirm that the high levels of both AGO2 acetylation and miR-19b correlate with poor prognosis in lung cancer patients. Our finding reveals a novel function of AGO2 acetylation in increasing oncogenic miR-19b biogenesis and suggests that modulation of AGO2 acetylation has potential clinical implications.

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This work was supported by grants from National Natural Science Foundation of China [31671345, 81472571, 81630075, 81602251, 81702837, 81702532, 81721004]

Author contributions:

H.Z., Y.W. and J.D. performed most of the experiments; Y.G., H.J., L.L., X.L., R.C., R.D., J.H. helped with all experiments; J.Y., X.Z., R.X. analyzed and discussed data; J.Y. and X.Z. wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Xian Zhao or Jianxiu Yu.

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