AbstractDespite its functional importance, the molecular mechanism underlying target mRNA recognition by Argonaute (Ago) remains largely elusive. Based on extensive all-atom molecular dynamics simulations, we constructed quasi-Markov State Model (qMSM) to reveal the dynamics during recognition at position 6-7 in the seed region of human Argonaute 2 (hAgo2). Interestingly, we found that the slowest mode of motion therein is not the gRNA-target base-pairing, but the coordination of the target phosphate groups with a set of positively charged residues of hAgo2. Moreover, the ability of Helix-7 to approach the PIWI and MID domains was found to reduce the effective volume accessible to the target mRNA and therefore facilitate both the backbone coordination and base-pair formation. Further mutant simulations revealed that alanine mutation of the D358 residue on Helix-7 enhanced a trap state to slow down the loading of target mRNA. Similar trap state was also observed when wobble pairs were introduced in g6 and g7, indicating the role of Helix-7 in suppressing non-canonical base-paring. Our study pointed to a general mechanism for mRNA recognition by eukaryotic Agos and demonstrated the promise of qMSM in investigating complex conformational changes of biomolecular systems.