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J Insect Physiol. 2010 Mar;56(3):227-35. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2009.10.004. Epub 2009 Oct 27.

Mechanisms of dsRNA uptake in insects and potential of RNAi for pest control: a review.

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Laboratory of Agrozoology, Department of Crop Protection, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Ghent, Belgium.


RNA interference already proved its usefulness in functional genomic research on insects, but it also has considerable potential for the control of pest insects. For this purpose, the insect should be able to autonomously take up the dsRNA, for example through feeding and digestion in its midgut. In this review we bring together current knowledge on the uptake mechanisms of dsRNA in insects and the potential of RNAi to affect pest insects. At least two pathways for dsRNA uptake in insects are described: the transmembrane channel-mediated uptake mechanism based on Caenorhabditis elegans' SID-1 protein and an 'alternative' endocytosis-mediated uptake mechanism. In the second part of the review dsRNA feeding experiments on insects are brought together for the first time, highlighting the achievement of implementing RNAi in insect control with the first successful experiments in transgenic plants and the diversity of successfully tested insect orders/species and target genes. We conclude with points of discussion and concerns regarding further research on dsRNA uptake mechanisms and the promising application possibilities for RNAi in insect control.

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