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small RNAs

Sunday 18 July 2004

RNA interference (RNAi) is triggered by double-stranded RNA helices that have been introduced exogenously into cells as small interfering (si)RNAs or that have been produced endogenously from small non-coding RNAs known as microRNAs (miRNAs).

Small RNAs are key regulators of mRNA turnover and translation. The small RNAs termed microRNAs (miRNAS) play important roles in cell proliferation, apoptosis and differentiation. MicroRNA mechanism is an efficient means to regulate production of a diverse range of proteins. RNA-based regulation of mRNAs may rival ubiquitination as a mechanism to control protein levels.

RNAi has become a standard experimental tool and its therapeutic potential is being aggressively harnessed. Understanding the structure and function of small RNAs, such as siRNAs and miRNAs, that trigger RNAi has shed light on the RNAi machinery.

In particular, it has highlighted the assembly and function of the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC), and has provided guidelines to efficiently silence genes for biological research and therapeutic applications of RNAi.


  • miRNAs (microRNAs)
  • siRNAs


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