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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2008 Aug;20(4):483-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ceb.2008.06.002. Epub 2008 Jul 11.

Lessons from genetics: interpreting complex phenotypes in RNAi screens.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Systems Biology, ETH Zürich, Wolfgang-Pauli Street 16, 8093 Zürich, Switzerland. sacher@imsb.biol.ethz.ch


Mammalian cell biology is witnessing a new era in which cellular processes are explained through dynamic networks of interacting cellular components. In this fast-pacing field, where image-based RNAi screening is taking a central role, there is a strong need to improve ways to capture such interactions in space and time. Cell biologists traditionally depict these events by confining themselves to the level of a single cell, or to many population-averaged cells. Similarly, classical geneticists observe and interpret phenotypes in a single organism to delineate signaling processes, but have also described genetic phenomena in populations of organisms. The analogy in the two approaches inspired us to draw parallels with, and take lessons from concepts in classical genetics.

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