RNA interference (RNAi) is one of the hottest topics in science these days. The ability of small RNA molecules to inhibit the expression of specific genes has made RNAi an extremely useful tool in modern biology. A paper in the February issue of Nature Structural Biology reports the creation of transgenic mice, in which inherited RNAi lowers the expression of a target gene. The result extends the power of RNAi to genetic studies in live animals.
RNAi generates genome diversity, is a host-defense mechanism and controls gene expression through regulatory feedback mechanisms. It is also a tremendously promising tool in stem cell research and tissue engineering. To make RNAi a viable tool to study the functions of genes in mice, Rosenquist, Hannon and collaborators (State University of New York at Stony Brook and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, USA) generated embryonic stem cells containing an RNAi signal targeted to a specific gene. Chimeric animals produced using these cells had offspring that inherited the RNAi signal and showed a lowered expression of the target gene. The creation of germline transgenic mice with an engineered and effective RNAi pathway opens the door to the manipulation of gene activity in living animals.
Thomas A. Rosenquist
State University of New York
Stony Brook, NY, USA
Tel: +1 631 444 8054
Gregory J. Hannon
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Cold Spring Harbor
Tel: +1 516 367 8889
(C) Nature Structural Biology press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza