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Nat Biotechnol. 2002 May;20(5):497-500.

U6 promoter-driven siRNAs with four uridine 3' overhangs efficiently suppress targeted gene expression in mammalian cells.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology, School of Engineering, the University of Tokyo, Hongo, Tokyo 113-8656, Japan.


The first evidence for gene disruption by double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) came from careful analysis in Caenorhabditis elegans. This phenomenon, called RNA interference (RNAi), was observed subsequently in various organisms, including plants, nematodes, Drosophila, and protozoans. Very recently, it has been reported that in mammalian cells, 21- or 22-nucleotide (nt) RNAs with 2-nt 3' overhangs (small inhibitory RNAs, siRNAs) exhibit an RNAi effect. This is because siRNAs are not recognized by the well-characterized host defense system against viral infections, involving dsRNA-dependent inhibition of protein synthesis. However, the current method for introducing synthetic siRNA into cells by lipofection restricts the range of applications of RNAi as a result of the low transfection efficiencies in some cell types and/or short-term persistence of silencing effects. Here, we report a vector-based siRNA expression system that can induce RNAi in mammalian cells. This technical advance for silencing gene expression not only facilitates a wide range of functional analysis of mammalian genes but might also allow therapeutic applications by means of vector-mediated RNAi.

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