A cost-effective resource for RNA interference (RNAi) that allows the effective reduction of gene expression is presented online in Nature Methods.
RNAi is a process by which short stretches of RNA knock down the expression of specific genes. To trigger this process at will, scientists most commonly use synthetic 'small interfering' (si)RNAs. Their advantage is that they can be designed to precisely target a sequence of choice within a gene; their disadvantage is that they are expensive. A large RNAi screen that targets many genes is thus financially impossible for a lot of academic laboratories. Frank Buchholz and colleagues previously developed a method to generate siRNAs enzymatically -- which makes them a lot cheaper but does not allow targeting of a particular sequence within a gene. Instead, the method creates a random pool of various siRNAs, some more effective than others, directed against a gene of interest. This presented a conundrum to many researchers who were intrigued by an easily accessible resource but doubted its efficacy in large screens.
The authors now introduce a selection step in their enzymatic synthesis process that makes the pool of enzymatically generated siRNAs more specific. The group shows that these enzymatically generated siRNAs work equally well, if not better, than synthetic siRNAs in a large RNAi screen, at a fraction of the cost.
Frank Buchholz, (Max Planck Institute, Dresden, Germany)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Methods press release.
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