Members of the Argonaute (Ago) protein family are central to RISC function. Argonaute proteins bind to mature microRNA (miRNAs) and short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and form the core components of effector complexes that mediate miRNA and siRNA function. Argonautes are needed for miRNA-induced silencing and contain two conserved RNA binding domains: a PAZ domain that can bind the single stranded 3’ end of the mature miRNA and a PIWI domain that structurally resembles ribonuclease-H and functions to interact with the 5’ end of the guide strand. Some argonautes, for example human Ago2, cleave target transcripts directly; argonautes may also recruit additional proteins to achieve translational repression. The human genome encodes eight Argonaute proteins divided by sequence similarities into two families: AGO (with four members present in all mammalian cells and called E1F2C/hAgo in humans), and PIWI (found in the germ line and hematopoietic stem cells).