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Trends Genet. 2005 Jul;21(7):370-3.

RNA-directed transcriptional gene silencing in mammals.

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The Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology, Institute of Cell Biology, University of Edinburgh, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JR, Scotland, UK.


RNA interference is a highly conserved pathway mediating sequence-specific RNA degradation. In plants, the short RNA intermediates of this pathway can also drive transcriptional silencing of target genes by DNA methylation. Until recently, there was no evidence that a similar pathway operated in mammals; two new studies suggest that small RNAs can direct DNA methylation and chromatin modification in human cells. Although further investigation is required to determine how widespread RNA-directed DNA methylation is in mammals, the findings raise the possibility that this pathway, far from being merely a curiosity of plant systems, is a conserved mechanism for control of gene expression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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