Branched, tripartite-interfering RNAs silence multiple target genes with long guide strands

Nucleic Acid Ther. 2012 Feb;22(1):30-9. doi: 10.1089/nat.2011.0315. Epub 2012 Jan 5.


Structural modifications could provide classical small interfering RNA (siRNA) structure with several advantages, including reduced off-target effects and increased silencing activity. Thus, RNA interference (RNAi)-triggering molecules with diverse structural modifications have been investigated by introducing variations on duplex length and overhang structure. However, most of siRNA structural variants are based on the linear duplex structure. In this study, we introduce a branched, non-linear tripartite-interfering RNA (tiRNA) structure that could induce silencing of multiple target genes. Surprisingly, the gene silencing by tiRNA structure does not require Dicer-mediated processing into smaller RNA units, and the 38-nt-long guide strands can trigger specific gene silencing through the RNAi machinery in mammalian cells. tiRNA also shows improved gene silencing potency over the classical siRNA structure when complexed with cationic delivery vehicles due to the enhanced intracellular delivery. These results demonstrate that tiRNA is a novel RNA nanostructure for executing multi-target gene silencing with increased potency, which could be utilized as a structural platform to develop efficient anticancer or antiviral RNAi therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • Gene Silencing*
  • Humans
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • RNA, Small Interfering