Two new tools are set to accelerate our understanding of mammalian gene function. The resources, detailed in two papers in the 25 March 2004 issue of Nature (Vol. 428, No. 6981, pp. 427-431 and 431-437), focus on RNA interference (RNAi) - the ability of short stretches of RNA to selectively switch genes off.
Two groups have made libraries producing such RNA fragments, each targeting around a third of human genes. The small, interfering pieces of RNA can be introduced into a wide range of mammalian cells, including embryonic stem cells, where they turn key genes off. The genes chosen are those with potential roles in human disease, so it is hoped that the libraries will help to pinpoint the functions of key genes in disease.
One group, led by René Bernards, has screened around 8,000 human genes to find those involved in the cessation of cell division. Two libraries created by Gregory J. Hannon and colleagues target almost 10,000 human genes and around 5,000 mouse genes, respectively. "This library of easily transferable shRNAs is a beautifully designed resource and should permit an impressive range of analyses in diverse cell types," says Andrew Fraser in an accompanying News and Views article.
Gregory J. Hannon
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Cold Spring Harbor, NY
Tel: +1 516 367 8889
The Netherlands Cancer Institute
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 512 1952
The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
Tel: +44 1223 495347
(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza