- MicroRNA (miRNA) biogenesis and miRNA-guided RNA interference (RNAi) are essential for gene expression in eukaryotes. Here we report that translation initiation factor eIF1A directly interacts with Ago2 and promotes Ago2 activities in RNAi and miR-451 biogenesis. Biochemical and NMR analyses demonstrate that eIF1A binds to the MID domain of Ago2 and this interaction does not impair translation initiation. Alanine mutation of the Ago2-facing Lys56 in eIF1A impairs RNAi activities in human cells and zebrafish. The eIF1A–Ago2 assembly facilitates Dicer-independent biogenesis of miR-451, which mediates erythrocyte maturation. Human eIF1A (heIF1A), but not heIF1A(K56A), rescues the erythrocyte maturation delay in eif1axb knockdown zebrafish. Consistently, miR-451 partly compensates erythrocyte maturation defects in zebrafish with eif1axb knockdown and eIF1A(K56A) expression, supporting a role of eIF1A in miRNA-451 biogenesis in this model. Our results suggest that eIF1A is a novel component of the Ago2-centred RNA-induced silencing complexes (RISCs) and augments Ago2-dependent RNAi and miRNA biogenesis.