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Nat Rev Genet. 2002 Oct;3(10):737-47.

Gene silencing in mammals by small interfering RNAs.

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Center for Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 40 Ames Street E17-526, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


Among the 3 billion base pairs of the human genome, there are approximately 30,000-40,000 protein-coding genes, but the function of at least half of them remains unknown. A new tool - short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) - has now been developed for systematically deciphering the functions and interactions of these thousands of genes. siRNAs are an intermediate of RNA interference, the process by which double-stranded RNA silences homologous genes. Although the use of siRNAs to silence genes in vertebrate cells was only reported a year ago, the emerging literature indicates that most vertebrate genes can be studied with this technology.

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