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RNA. 2002 Jun;8(6):842-50.

Gene silencing using micro-RNA designed hairpins.

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Center for Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139, USA.


During RNA interference (RNAi), long dsRNA is processed to approximately 21 nt duplexes, short interfering RNAs (siRNAs), which silence genes through a mRNA degradation pathway. Small temporal RNAs (stRNAs) and micro-RNAs (miRNAs) are approximately 21 nt RNAs that are processed from endogenously encoded hairpin-structured precursors, and function to silence genes via translational repression. Here we report that synthetic hairpin RNAs that mimic siRNAs and miRNA precursor molecules can target a gene for silencing, and the mechanism of silencing appears to be through mRNA degradation and not translational repression. The sequence and structural configuration of these RNAs are important, and even slight modification in structure can affect the silencing activity of the hairpins. Furthermore, these RNAs are active when expressed by DNA vectors containing polymerase III promoters, opening the possibility for new approaches in stable RNAi-based loss of function studies.

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