The combination of emergent RNA interference (RNAi) technology with in ovo electroporation in the chick embryo has the potential to provide a powerful and rapid means for functional analyses of novel genes in vivo. In this study, we show that electroporation of short 21-bp RNA duplexes (siRNAs) is a quick and simple method for silencing exogenous and endogenous gene expression in vivo. Quantitative comparisons with two other RNAi protocols that use long double-stranded RNA duplexes and endonuclease-digested duplexes (esiRNAs) demonstrate that siRNAs are significantly more effective at reducing gene expression. Furthermore, we also find that much higher amounts of siRNA are required for silencing of endogenous gene expression relative to plasmid-borne reporter constructs. In short, these results demonstrate that siRNAs are the most effective type of double-stranded RNA duplex for silencing gene expression and suggest that there might be important differences between silencing endogenous and exogenous genes. Finally, we review the parameters for each of these RNA-based methods of RNAi and the controls required to analyze RNAi data in the context of the developing vertebrate embryo.
(c) 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.