Gene silencing: Fleshing out the bones

Finnegan, E.Jean, Wang, Ming-Bo, & Waterhouse, Peter M. (2001) Gene silencing: Fleshing out the bones. Current Biology, 11(3), R99-R102.

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Genetic studies are revealing the pathway for RNA-mediated gene silencing. Short RNA molecules are the key, giving sequence specificity for RNA degradation and mediating communication within and between cells; these short RNAs are common to transcriptional and post-transcriptional silencing pathways.

The expression of transgenes in plants varies between independent transformants and there are many examples where the transgenic trait is not expressed, or disappears in subsequent generations, despite the presence of the transgene. This loss of a trait, but not of the transgene, has become known as gene silencing and can take two forms, transcriptional or post-transcriptional. As their names imply, transcriptional gene silencing occurs when a transgene is not transcribed, whereas in post-transcriptional gene silencing, the transgene mRNA is produced but degraded before it is translated (reviewed in [1]).

Both forms of silencing seem to be the result of inherent mechanisms for protecting plants against mobile or invading DNA — for example, transposable elements or the T-DNA of Agrobacterium — or RNA viruses. Plants are not alone in their capacity for transgene silencing; both forms of silencing occur in flies and fungi, where it is known as RIP or quelling, while nematodes exhibit post-transcriptional silencing, generally referred to as RNA interference (RNAi). A clearer picture of the mechanisms and relationships of the different types of transgene silencing is beginning to emerge from a number of recent studies [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7] and [8]. Some of these studies [2], [3], [4] and [5] have enhanced our understanding of the steps within the post-transcriptional silencing pathway, and others [6], [7] and [8] have demonstrated that the two forms of silencing may be mechanistically linked.

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ID Code: 65873
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1016/S0960-9822(01)00039-2
ISSN: 0960-9822
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (060000) > GENETICS (060400)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (060000) > PLANT BIOLOGY (060700)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Elsevier
Deposited On: 08 Jan 2014 07:10
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2015 01:41

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