Making a better RNAi vector for Drosophila: use of intron spacers

Methods. 2003 Aug;30(4):322-9. doi: 10.1016/s1046-2023(03)00051-3.


Double-stranded RNA induces sequence-specific inhibition of gene expression at a posttranscriptional level in eukaryotes (RNAi). This natural phenomenon has been developed into a tool for studying gene function in several model organisms, including Drosophila melanogaster. Transgenes bearing inverted repeats are able to exert an RNAi effect in Drosophila, but cloning difficulties and inconsistent silencing complicate the method. We have constructed a transgene containing inverted repeats separated by a functional intron such that mRNA produced by the transgene is predicted to form loopless hairpin RNA following splicing. A single copy of the transgene effectively and uniformly silences expression of a target gene (white) in transgenic flies. We have developed a vector that is designed to produce intron-spliced hairpin RNA corresponding to any Drosophila gene. The vector is under control of the upstream activating sequence (UAS) of the yeast transcriptional activator GAL4. The UAS/GAL4 system allows hairpin RNA to conditionally silence gene expression in Drosophila in a tissue-specific manner. Moreover, the presence of the intron spacer greatly enhances the stability of inverted-repeat sequences in bacteria, facilitating the cloning procedure.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genes, Insect
  • Genetic Techniques*
  • Genetic Vectors*
  • Introns
  • RNA Interference*
  • Transgenes