RNA interference or RNAi is a recently characterized mechanism of eukaryotic gene regulation in which a short sequence of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) specifically down-regulates expression of the associated gene. Preliminary characterization of this phenomenon has revealed a set of inter-related cellular pathways which appear to represent both a response to foreign RNA and a mechanism of endogenous gene regulation. Introduction of dsRNA into cells by a variety of means, including transfection of synthetic RNA duplexes, triggers the RNAi response resulting in specific suppression of target gene expression. Recent efforts on a genome wide scale have involved application of RNAi as an important new tool in cell biology to elucidate gene function in living cells.
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