RNA interference (RNAi) has emerged as a powerful tool for the silencing of gene expression in animals and plants. RNAi is mediated by approximately 21-nt small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), which are originally produced from larger double stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) in vivo through the action of Dicer. Recently, many groups have reported systems designed to express siRNAs in mammalian cells through transfection of either oligonucleotides or plasmids encoding siRNAs. Although the use of siRNAs to silence genes in vertebrate cells was only reported three years ago, the emerging literature indicates that most vertebrate genes can be studied with this technology. This review summarizes some approaches to generate siRNAs, the delivery and application of siRNAs to target cells and the utility of siRNAs as analytical and potential therapeutic tools.
Keywords: dsrna, gene silencing, rnai, sirna, mirna, shrna, knockdown, antiviral response
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