RNA Interference

Volume 320 of the series Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology pp 225-256

RNA Silencing in Mammalian Oocytes and Early Embryos

  • Petr SvobodaAffiliated withInstitute of Molecular Genetics, Czech Academy of Sciences

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RNA silencing is a common term for homology-dependent silencing phenomena found in the majority of eukaryotic species. RNA silencing pathways share several conserved components. The common denominator of these pathways is the presence of specific, short (21–25 nt) RNA molecules generated from different double-stranded RNA substrates by a specific RNase III activity. Short RNA molecules serve as a template for sequence-specific effects including transcriptional silencing, mRNA degradation, and inhibition of translation. This review will discuss possible roles of RNA silencing pathways in mouse oocytes and early embryos as well as the use of RNA silencing for experimental inhibition of gene expression in this model system.