Phosphorylation of Argonaute 2 at serine-387 facilitates its localization to processing bodies
Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-2
Ago (Argonaute) proteins are essential effectors of RNA-mediated gene silencing. To explore potential regulatory mechanisms for Ago proteins, we examined the phosphorylation of human Ago2. We identified serine-387 as the major Ago2 phosphorylation site in vivo. Phosphorylation of Ago2 at serine-387 was significantly induced by treatment with sodium arsenite or anisomycin, and arsenite-induced phosphorylation was inhibited by a p38 MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) inhibitor, but not by inhibitors of JNK (c-Jun N-terminal kinase) or MEK [MAPK/ERK (extracellular-signal-regulated kinase) kinase]. MAPKAPK2 (MAPK-activated protein kinase-2) phosphorylated bacterially expressed full-length human Ago2 at serine-387 in vitro, but not the S387A mutant. Finally, mutation of serine-387 to an alanine residue or treatment of cells with a p38 MAPK inhibitor reduced the localization of Ago2 to processing bodies. These results suggest a potential regulatory mechanism for RNA silencing acting through Ago2 serine-387 phosphorylation mediated by the p38 MAPK pathway.