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RNA Interference and Gene Silencing: History and Overview


RNAi has also been observed in Drosophila. Although a strategy in which yeast were engineered to produce dsRNA and then fed to fruit flies failed to work, microinjecting Drosophila embryos with dsRNA does effect silencing (2). Silencing can also be induced by "shooting" dsRNA into Drosophila embryos with a "gene gun" or by engineering flies to carry DNA containing an inverted repeat of the gene to be silenced. Over the last few years, these RNAi strategies have been used as reverse genetics tools in Drosophila organisms, embryo lysates, and cells to characterize various loss-of-function phenotypes (2, 19-23).

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Cosuppression - Silencing of an endogenous gene caused by the introduction of a transgene or infection by a virus. This term, which can refer to silencing at the post-transcriptional (PTGS) or transcriptional (TGS) level, has been primarily adopted by researchers working with plants.

Post-transcriptional Gene Silencing (PTGS) - Silencing of an endogenous gene caused by the introduction of a homologous dsRNA, transgene or virus. In PTGS, the transcript of the silenced gene is synthesized but does not accumulate because it is rapidly degraded. This is a more general term than RNAi, since it can be triggered by several different means.

Quelling - PTGS in Neurospora crassa induced by the introduction of a transgene.

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