A three-dimensional view of the molecular machinery of RNA interference

Nature. 2009 Jan 22;457(7228):405-12. doi: 10.1038/nature07755.


In eukaryotes, small non-coding RNAs regulate gene expression, helping to control cellular metabolism, growth and differentiation, to maintain genome integrity, and to combat viruses and mobile genetic elements. These pathways involve two specialized ribonucleases that control the production and function of small regulatory RNAs. The enzyme Dicer cleaves double-stranded RNA precursors, generating short interfering RNAs and microRNAs in the cytoplasm. These small RNAs are transferred to Argonaute proteins, which guide the sequence-specific silencing of messenger RNAs that contain complementary sequences by either enzymatically cleaving the mRNA or repressing its translation. The molecular structures of Dicer and the Argonaute proteins, free and bound to small RNAs, have offered exciting insights into the molecular mechanisms that are central to RNA silencing pathways.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / biosynthesis*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • RNA Interference / physiology*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / biosynthesis*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism*
  • RNA-Induced Silencing Complex / metabolism
  • Ribonuclease III / metabolism


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • RNA-Induced Silencing Complex
  • Ribonuclease III