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Methods. 2011 Feb;53(2):142-50. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2010.08.003. Epub 2010 Aug 10.

Conditional RNAi in mice.

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Institute for Developmental Genetics, Helmholtz Center Munich - German Research Center for Environmental Health, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg/Munich, Germany.


RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated gene knockdown has developed into a routine method to assess gene function in cultured mammalian cells in a fast and easy manner. For the use of RNAi in mice, short hairpin (sh) RNAs expressed stably from the genome are a fast alternative to conventional knockout approaches. We developed a strategy for complete or conditional gene knockdown in mice, where the Cre/loxP system is used to activate RNAi in a time and tissue dependent manner. Alternatively doxycycline controlled shRNA expression vectors can be used for conditional gene silencing. Single copy RNAi constructs are placed into the Rosa26 locus of ES cells by recombinase mediated cassette exchange and transmitted through the germline of chimeric mice. The shRNA transgenic offspring can be either directly used for phenotypic analysis or are further crossed to a Cre transgenic strain to activate conditional shRNA vectors. The site specific insertion of single copy shRNA vectors allows the expedite and reproducible production of knockdown mice and provides an easy and fast approach to assess gene function in vivo.

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