Gene silencing in mammals by small interfering RNAs

Nat Rev Genet. 2002 Oct;3(10):737-47. doi: 10.1038/nrg908.


Among the 3 billion base pairs of the human genome, there are approximately 30,000-40,000 protein-coding genes, but the function of at least half of them remains unknown. A new tool - short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) - has now been developed for systematically deciphering the functions and interactions of these thousands of genes. siRNAs are an intermediate of RNA interference, the process by which double-stranded RNA silences homologous genes. Although the use of siRNAs to silence genes in vertebrate cells was only reported a year ago, the emerging literature indicates that most vertebrate genes can be studied with this technology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Silencing / physiology*
  • Gene Targeting
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / physiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Plants
  • RNA, Messenger / physiology
  • RNA, Small Interfering / physiology*
  • Virus Diseases / therapy


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Small Interfering