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RNA Interference (RNAi) and MicroRNAs

  1. Gregory J Hannon

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0006256



How to Cite

Hannon, G. J. 2006. RNA Interference (RNAi) and MicroRNAs. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


In 1990, an experiment designed to alter floral pigmentation in Petunia sowed the seeds of what has since become a major new field of biology. Efforts to understand the mechanisms that underlie double-stranded RNA-induced (dsRNA) gene silencing are now bearing fruit of many varieties. It is clear that a conserved biological response to dsRNA, known variously as RNA interference (RNAi) or posttranscriptional gene silencing, mediates resistance to both endogenous parasitic and exogenous pathogenic nucleic acids, such as transposons and RNA viruses, and regulates the expression of protein-coding genes. In addition, RNAi has been cultivated as a means to experimentally manipulate gene expression. In the near future, the use of RNAi to probe gene function at a whole-genome scale is likely to yield a rich harvest, not only providing insights into basic biological processes but also the tools to identify more rapidly therapeutic targets for numerous human diseases.


  • gene silencing;
  • chromatin;
  • RNAi;
  • development;
  • virus resistance;
  • genomics