DNA interference by a mesophilic Argonaute protein, CbcAgo
The search for putative enzymes that can facilitate gene editing has recently focused its attention on Argonaute proteins from prokaryotes (pAgos). Though they are structural homologues of human Argonaute protein, which uses RNA guides to interfere with RNA targets, pAgos use ssDNA guides to identify and, in many cases, cut a complementary DNA target. Thermophilic pAgos from Thermus thermophilus, Pyrococcus furiosus and Methanocaldococcus jasmanii have been identified and thoroughly studied,
... roughly studied, but their thermoactivity makes them of little use in mesophilic systems such as mammalian cells. Methods: Here we search for and identify CbcAgo, a prokaryotic Argonaute protein from a mesophilic bacterium, and characterize in vitro its DNA interference activity. Results: CbcAgo efficiently uses 5'P-ssDNA guides as small as 11-mers to cut ssDNA targets, requires divalent cations (preferentially, Mn2+) and has a maximum activity between 37 and 42 °C, remaining active up to 55 °C. Nicking activity on supercoiled dsDNA was shown. However, no efficient double-strand breaking activity could be demonstrated. Conclusions: CbcAgo can use gDNA guides as small as 11 nucleotides long to cut complementary ssDNA targets at 37ºC, making it a promising starting point for the development of new gene editing tools for mammalian cells.