RNAi and RNAa--the yin and yang of RNAome

Bioinformation. 2008 Jan 11;2(6):235-7. doi: 10.6026/97320630002235.


RNA interference (RNAi) is a powerful technology with huge applications for functional genomics, target identification in drug discovery and elucidation of molecular signaling pathways. Current RNAi studies have demonstrated the clinical potential of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) in metabolic diseases, cancer, AIDS, malaria, neurodegenerative disorders, dental diseases and other illnesses. Interestingly, recent studies have shown that the small RNA molecules, either indigenously produced as microRNAs (miRNAs) or exogenously administered synthetic dsRNAs could effectively activate a particular gene in a sequence specific manner instead of silencing it. This novel, but still uncharacterized, phenomenon has been termed as RNA activation (RNAa). The paradoxical concept of Yin and Yang, which describe two primal opposing but complementary principles, can potentially be applied to elucidate the complex phenomenon of RNAa/RNAi in the RNAome. This warrants a proper understanding of the RNAi/RNAa molecular pathways in living organisms before any of the small dsRNAs can potentially be exploited for therapeutics in human beings.

Keywords: RNA activation; RNA interference; RNAome; Yin and Yang; drug discovery; functional genomics; gene silencing; small interfering RNA; therapeutics.