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    RNA Interference - Applications

    RNA interference (RNAi) is an endogenous post-transcriptional gene regulatory mechanism mediated by non-coding RNA molecules known as microRNAs. microRNAs can target hundreds of genes simultaneous1, inducing subtle but reproducible shifts in gene expression and regulation.

    This mechanism can be utilized for targeted gene silencing by introduction of nucleic acid based tools that are specially designed to trigger the RNAi mechanism. These molecules are taken up by the RNA induced silencing complex (RISC) to target specific mRNAs for degradation or to modulate endogenous microRNAs.

    Currently, there are three primary categories of RNAi tools to perform these functions: small interfering RNA (siRNA), short hairpin RNA (shRNA), and microRNA mimics and inhibitors.

    siRNA Tools

    • The most commonly used RNAi tool for inducing short term gene silencing
    • A synthetic, double-strand RNA duplex of 19-21 nt in length is transfected into cells and through perfect complementarity, targets for degradation a specific mRNA
    • Learn more about the basics of how siRNA works, and how to use it experimentally on our siRNA applications page.

    shRNA Tools

    • Delivered via plasmid transfection or viral transduction, and useful for longer term gene silencing and delivery into difficult- to-transfect cell types
    • Stem loop structures that are processed by the cell into siRNAs, encoded in a plasmid or viral vector for endogenous expression
    • Learn more about the basics of how shRNA works, and how to use it experimentally on our shRNA applications page.

    microRNA tools

    • Synthetic or expressed microRNA mimics are valuable for studying microRNAs by gain of function assays
    • Synthetic microRNA inhibitors are designed to bind native microRNAs to prevent their activity, thereby providing loss-of-function results
    • Expressed microRNA mimics may be placed under an inducible promoter for temporal studies of microRNA roles
    • Learn more about the basics of how microRNA works, and how to use it experimentally on our microRNA applications page.

    These tools have enabled a shift from traditional gene knockout, antisense or ribozyme technologies towards RNAi as a standard technique for discovery biology and target validation. RNAi is routinely manipulated to perform individual gene functional analyses, as well as to dissect complex biological pathways or survey entire genomes in a high-throughput manner.

    Featured Products

    • RNA Interference - Products

      Dharmacon RNAi products encompass the most complete portfolio of innovative tools for transient, long-term, inducible and in vivo RNAi applications.

    • ON-TARGETplus siRNA

      Enjoy optimal specificity from the only siRNA with a patented modification pattern to reduce off-targets caused by either the sense or the antisense strand.

    • Cherry-pick RNAi Libraries

      Fast and easy online configuration and ordering of plated siRNA & microRNA reagents targeting your genes of interest.

    • SMARTvector Inducible Lentiviral shRNA

      The most advanced and flexible single-vector inducible shRNA available for tightly controlled gene silencing

    Featured Resources


    1. Friedman, R.C. et al. Most mammalian mRNAs are conserved targets of microRNAs. Genome Research 19(1):92-105 (2009).