, Volume 89, Issue 3, pp 501-512
Date: 17 Oct 2010

RNAi as a potential tool for biotechnological applications in fungi

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RNA interference (RNAi) is a post-transcriptional gene-silencing (PTGS) phenomenon in which double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) triggers the degradation of homologous mRNA species, thereby reducing gene expression. In fungi, the use of RNAi as a tool for reverse genetics, aimed at modification of gene expression, is constantly growing, with more than 40 species already proven to be responsive. This technology has the ability to co-down-regulate the expression of several genes; however, this trait also makes it susceptible to non-target effects, which can be addressed using both available and developing bioinformatic tools. Moreover, the functionality of absorbed exogenous RNAi molecules, and the various classes of small RNAs found in fungi, offer great versatility and flexibility in acquiring the desired effects on gene expression, even without the necessity to genetically modify the targeted strain. There is an emerging role for RNAi as a potential tool for biotechnological applications. This is evident from current investigations in fungi, demonstrating the contribution of RNAi to progress research and applications in biomaterials production, bioconversion, plant fungal interactions and virulence factors of human pathogens. Possible problems and prospects for the use of RNAi in fungal biotechnology are discussed.