Controlling morpholino experiments: don't stop making antisense

Development. 2008 May;135(10):1735-43. doi: 10.1242/dev.001115. Epub 2008 Apr 9.


One of the most significant problems facing developmental biologists who do not work on an organism with well-developed genetics - and even for some who do - is how to inhibit the action of a gene of interest during development so as to learn about its normal biological function. A widely adopted approach is to use antisense technologies, and especially morpholino antisense oligonucleotides. In this article, we review the use of such reagents and present examples of how they have provided insights into developmental mechanisms. We also discuss how the use of morpholinos can lead to misleading results, including off-target effects, and we suggest controls that will allow researchers to interpret morpholino experiments correctly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • MicroRNAs / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mutation
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / genetics*
  • Xenopus / genetics
  • Xenopus / metabolism
  • Zebrafish / genetics
  • Zebrafish / metabolism


  • MicroRNAs
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense