Choosing the Right Tool for the Job: RNAi, TALEN, or CRISPR

Mol Cell. 2015 May 21;58(4):575-85. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2015.04.028.


The most widely used approach for defining gene function is to reduce or completely disrupt its normal expression. For over a decade, RNAi has ruled the lab, offering a magic bullet to disrupt gene expression in many organisms. However, new biotechnological tools--specifically CRISPR-based technologies--have become available and are squeezing out RNAi dominance in mammalian cell studies. These seemingly competing technologies leave research investigators with the question: "Which technology should I use in my experiment?" This review offers a practical resource to compare and contrast these technologies, guiding the investigator when and where to use this fantastic array of powerful tools.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomedical Research / methods
  • Biomedical Research / trends
  • Biotechnology / methods
  • Biotechnology / trends
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems / genetics*
  • Deoxyribonucleases / metabolism*
  • Genetic Engineering / methods*
  • Genetic Engineering / trends
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • RNA Interference*


  • Deoxyribonucleases