July - September 2008: 
Volume 21, Issue 3

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RNA interference: research tool or therapeutic technique?
RNA interference (RNAi) represents a fundamental biological process by which cells regulate gene silencing post-transcriptionally. It is triggered by double-stranded RNA (dsRNAs) precursors that vary in length and origin. These dsRNAs are rapidly processed into short RNA duplexes of about 21 to 28 nucleotides in length, which then guide the recognition and ultimately the cleavage or translational repression of complementary single-stranded RNAs. RNAi targets include RNA from viruses and transposons (significant for some forms of innate immune response), and they also play a role in regulating development and genome maintenance (since short RNAs have been implicated in guiding chromatin modification)1.