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Biomol Eng. 2006 Mar;23(1):17-34. Epub 2006 Feb 8.

RNA interference in cancer.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, 60612, USA.


In the recent years, RNA interference (RNAi) has emerged as a major regulatory mechanism in eukaryotic gene expression. The realization that changes in the levels of microRNAs are directly associated with cancer led to the recognition of a new class of tumor suppressors and oncogenes. Moreover, RNAi has been turned into a potent tool for artificially modulating gene expression through the introduction of short interfering RNAs. A plethora of individual inhibitory RNAs as well as several large collections of these reagents have been generated. The systems for stable and regulated expression of these molecules emerged as well. These tools have helped to delineate the roles of various cellular factors in oncogenesis and tumor suppression and laid the foundation for new approaches in gene discovery. Furthermore, successful inhibition of tumor cell growth by RNAi aimed at oncogenes in vitro and in vivo supports the enthusiasm for potential therapeutic applications of this technique. In this article we review the evidence of microRNA involvement in cancer, the use of short interfering RNAs in forward and reverse genetics of this disease, and as well as both the benefits and limitations of experimental RNAi.

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