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Brief Funct Genomic Proteomic. 2006 Mar;5(1):52-6. Epub 2006 Feb 23.

Cellular phenotyping by RNAi.

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Boveri-Group Signaling and Functional Genomics, German Cancer Research Center, Im Neuenheimer Feld 580, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


A systematic characterization of genes with unknown function is a key challenge after the sequencing of the human genome and the genomes of many model organisms. High-throughput RNA-interference (RNAi) screenings have become a widely used approach in invertebrate model organisms and also promise to revolutionize cell biology in mammals. Genome-wide RNAi screens in Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila, and in a smaller scale in mammalian cells have proven to be a valuable and successful method for the dissection of diverse biological processes. A number of RNAi libraries have become available that rely on different technologies, such as long double-stranded (ds) RNAs, in vitro diced short-interfering (si) RNAs, synthetic siRNAs and short-hairpin (sh) RNAs, which all have specific advantages and disadvantages. In addition, progress in screening technologies and data analysis allows the adaptation of screening methods to analyse more complex cellular processes. This review will summarize strategies in combining genome-scale RNAi libraries, high-throughput screening technologies, integrated high-content data analysis and will discuss future challenges.

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