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Mol Biotechnol. 2013 Sep;55(1):87-100. doi: 10.1007/s12033-013-9648-6.

Non-coding RNAs in crop genetic modification: considerations and predictable environmental risk assessments (ERA).

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  • 1Directorate of Soybean Research, Indian Council of Agricultural Research-ICAR, Indore 452001, India.


Of late non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs)-mediated gene silencing is an influential tool deliberately deployed to negatively regulate the expression of targeted genes. In addition to the widely employed small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated gene silencing approach, other variants like artificial miRNA (amiRNA), miRNA mimics, and artificial transacting siRNAs (tasiRNAs) are being explored and successfully deployed in developing non-coding RNA-based genetically modified plants. The ncRNA-based gene manipulations are typified with mobile nature of silencing signals, interference from viral genome-derived suppressor proteins, and an obligation for meticulous computational analysis to prevaricate any inadvertent effects. In a broad sense, risk assessment inquiries for genetically modified plants based on the expression of ncRNAs are competently addressed by the environmental risk assessment (ERA) models, currently in vogue, designed for the first generation transgenic plants which are based on the expression of heterologous proteins. Nevertheless, transgenic plants functioning on the foundation of ncRNAs warrant due attention with respect to their unique attributes like off-target or non-target gene silencing effects, small RNAs (sRNAs) persistence, food and feed safety assessments, problems in detection and tracking of sRNAs in food, impact of ncRNAs in plant protection measures, effect of mutations etc. The role of recent developments in sequencing techniques like next generation sequencing (NGS) and the ERA paradigm of the different countries in vogue are also discussed in the context of ncRNA-based gene manipulations.

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