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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2007 Jan;8(1):23-36.

Illuminating the silence: understanding the structure and function of small RNAs.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts 01605, USA.


RNA interference (RNAi) is triggered by double-stranded RNA helices that have been introduced exogenously into cells as small interfering (si)RNAs or that have been produced endogenously from small non-coding RNAs known as microRNAs (miRNAs). RNAi has become a standard experimental tool and its therapeutic potential is being aggressively harnessed. Understanding the structure and function of small RNAs, such as siRNAs and miRNAs, that trigger RNAi has shed light on the RNAi machinery. In particular, it has highlighted the assembly and function of the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC), and has provided guidelines to efficiently silence genes for biological research and therapeutic applications of RNAi.

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