Gene expression: long-term gene silencing by RNAi

Nature. 2006 Aug 24;442(7105):882. doi: 10.1038/442882a.


Small RNA molecules participate in a variety of activities in the cell: in a process known as RNA interference (RNAi), double-stranded RNA triggers the degradation of messenger RNA that has a matching sequence; the small RNA intermediates of this process can also modify gene expression in the nucleus. Here we show that a single episode of RNAi in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans can induce transcriptional silencing effects that are inherited indefinitely in the absence of the original trigger. Our findings may prove useful in the ongoing development of RNAi to treat disease.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Genes, Dominant / genetics
  • Genes, Helminth / genetics*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Heredity / genetics*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Male
  • Phenotype
  • RNA Interference*
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics
  • Transgenes / genetics


  • CEH-13 protein, C elegans
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins