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Biotechnol Annu Rev. 2001;7:31-57.

RNA interference: mechanisms and applications.

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Department of Molecular Biology, University of Bergen, HIB, PO Box 7800, N-5020 Bergen, Norway.


RNA interference (RNAi) is a phenomenon induced by double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) in which gene expression is inhibited through specific degradation of mRNA. The mechanism involves conversion of dsRNA into short RNAs that direct ribonucleases to homologous mRNA targets. This process is related to normal defence against viruses and mobilisation of transposons. Treatment with dsRNA has become an important method for analysing gene functions in invertebrate organisms. RNAi has also been demonstrated in several vertebrate species but with lower efficiency. Development of procedures for in vivo production of dsRNA may provide efficient tools for tissue- and stage-specific gene targeting.

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