Computational Tools: RNA Interference in Fungal Therapeutics
There is steady rise in the number of immunocompromised population due to increased use of potent immunosuppression therapies. This is associated with increased risk of acquiring fungal opportunistic infections in immunocompromised patients which account for high morbidity and mortality rates, if left untreated. The conventional antifungal drugs to treat fungal diseases (mycoses) are increasingly becoming inadequate due to observed varied susceptibility of fungi and their recurrent resistance. RNA interference (RNAi), sequence-specific gene silencing, is emerging as a promising new therapeutic approach. This chapter discusses various aspects of RNAi, viz., the fundamental RNAi machinery present in fungi, in silico siRNA features, designing guidelines and tools, siRNA delivery, and validation of gene knockdown for therapeutics against mycoses. Target gene identification is a crucial step in designing of gene-specific siRNA in addition to efficient delivery strategies to bring about effective inhibition of fungi. Subsequently, designed siRNA can be delivered effectively in vitro either by soaking fungi with siRNA or by transforming inverted repeat transgene containing plasmid into fungi, which ultimately generates siRNA(s). Finally, fungal inhibition can be verified at the RNA and protein levels by blotting techniques, fluorescence imaging, and biochemical assays. Despite challenges, several such in vitro studies have spawned optimism around RNAi as a revolutionary new class of therapeutics against mycoses. But, pharmacokinetic parameters need to be evaluated from in vivo studies and clinical trials to recognize RNAi as a novel treatment approach for mycoses.
KeywordsRNA interference Short interfering RNA Mycoses Immunosuppression Opportunistic infection siRNA design Target gene Soaking Inverted repeat transgene Therapeutics
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