RNA interference in protozoan parasites: achievements and challenges

Eukaryot Cell. 2011 Sep;10(9):1156-63. doi: 10.1128/EC.05114-11. Epub 2011 Jul 15.


Protozoan parasites that profoundly affect mankind represent an exceptionally diverse group of organisms, including Plasmodium, Toxoplasma, Entamoeba, Giardia, trypanosomes, and Leishmania. Despite the overwhelming impact of these parasites, there remain many aspects to be discovered about mechanisms of pathogenesis and how these organisms survive in the host. Combined with the ever-increasing availability of sequenced genomes, RNA interference (RNAi), discovered a mere 13 years ago, has enormously facilitated the analysis of gene function, especially in organisms that are not amenable to classical genetic approaches. Here we review the current status of RNAi in studies of parasitic protozoa, with special emphasis on its use as a postgenomic tool.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Entamoeba / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics*
  • Leishmania braziliensis / genetics
  • Parasites / genetics*
  • Plasmodium / genetics
  • RNA Interference*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics*
  • Trypanosoma / genetics
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / genetics


  • RNA, Small Interfering