Computational Analysis of siRNA Recognition by the Ago2 PAZ Domain and Identification of the Determinants of RNA-Induced Gene Silencing

Kandeel, Mahmoud; Kitade, Yukio
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
RNA interference (RNAi) is a highly specialized process of protein-siRNA interaction that results in the regulation of gene expression and cleavage of target mRNA. The PAZ domain of the Argonaute proteins binds to the 3' end of siRNA, and during RNAi the attaching end of the siRNA switches between binding and release from its binding pocket. This biphasic interaction of the 3' end of siRNA with the PAZ domain is essential for RNAi activity; however, it remains unclear whether stronger or weaker binding with PAZ domain will facilitate or hinder the overall RNAi process. Here we report the correlation between the binding of modified siRNA 3' overhang analogues and their in vivo RNAi efficacy. We found that higher RNAi efficacy was associated with the parameters of lower Ki value, lower total intermolecular energy, lower free energy, higher hydrogen bonding, smaller total surface of interaction and fewer van der Waals interactions. Electrostatic interaction was a minor contributor to compounds recognition, underscoring the presence of phosphate groups in the modified analogues. Thus, compounds with lower binding affinity are associated with better gene silencing. Lower binding strength along with the smaller interaction surface, higher hydrogen bonding and fewer van der Waals interactions were among the markers for favorable RNAi activity. Within the measured parameters, the interaction surface, van der Waals interactions and inhibition constant showed a statistically significant correlation with measured RNAi efficacy. The considerations provided in this report will be helpful in the design of new compounds with better gene silencing ability.


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