Short interfering RNAs as a tool for cancer gene therapy

Cancer Gene Ther. 2005 Mar;12(3):217-27. doi: 10.1038/sj.cgt.7700791.


There are mainly two types of short RNAs that target complementary messengers in animals: small interfering RNAs and micro-RNAs. Both are produced by the cleavage of double-stranded RNA precursors by Dicer, a member of the Rnase III family of double-stranded specific endonucleases, and both guide the RNA-induced silencing complex to cleave specifically RNAs sharing sequence identity with them. In designing a particular RNA interference (RNAi), it is important to identify the sense/antisense combination that provides the most potent suppression of the target mRNA, and several rules have been established to give >90% gene expression inhibition. RNAi technology can be directed against cancer using a variety of strategies. These include the inhibition of overexpressed oncogenes, blocking cell division by interfering with cyclin E and related genes or promoting apoptosis by suppressing antiapoptotic genes. RNAi against multidrug resistance genes or chemoresistance targets may also provide useful cancer treatments. Studies investigating these approaches in preclinical models are also reviewed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Cell Cycle / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Genes, MDR / genetics
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • RNA Interference*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering / therapeutic use*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Small Interfering