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RNA Interference

Research Uses Of Rna Interference

Because of its ability to turn off individual gene expression, RNA interference provides a remarkably precise tool for studying the effects of individual genes. There are several ways to deliver dsRNA to cells. It can be injected into a single cell or placed in a viral chromosome that infects the cells being studied. Roundworms will absorb dsRNA if they are soaked in a solution containing it, or if they eat bacteria that contain it.

RNA interference has several advantages over the alternative way of "knocking out" a gene, called gene targeting. Unlike gene targeting, administration of dsRNA does not require long and laborious breeding of the target organism carrying the knockout. Even more importantly, the dsRNA knockout is temporary and can be induced at any stage of the life cycle, rather than exerting its effect throughout life, as with gene targeting. This allows short-term studies of gene effects, a feature particularly valuable for studying development, for instance.

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