Our current knowledge about the mechanisms of miRNA silencing is restricted to few lineages such as vertebrates, arthropods, nematodes and land plants. miRNA-mediated silencing in bilaterian animals is dependent on the proteins of the GW182 family. Here, we dissect the function of GW182 protein in the cnidarian Nematostella, separated by 600 million years from other Metazoa. Using cultured human cells, we show that Nematostella GW182 recruits the CCR4-NOT deadenylation complexes via its tryptophan-containing motifs, thereby inhibiting translation and promoting mRNA decay. Further, similarly to bilaterians, GW182 in Nematostella is recruited to the miRNA repression complex via interaction with Argonaute proteins, and functions downstream to repress mRNA. Thus, our work suggests that this mechanism of miRNA-mediated silencing was already active in the last common ancestor of Cnidaria and Bilateria.
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© The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.