Gene expression

Total silencing by intron-spliced hairpin RNAs


Post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS), a sequence-specific RNA degradation mechanism inherent in many life-forms, can be induced in plants by transforming them with either antisense1 or co-suppression2 constructs, but typically this results in only a small proportion of silenced individuals. Here we show that gene constructs encoding intron-spliced RNA with a hairpin structure can induce PTGS with almost 100% efficiency when directed against viruses or endogenous genes. These constructs could prove valuable in reverse genetics, genomics, engineering of metabolic pathways and protection against pathogens.

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Figure 1: Efficiency of induction of post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS) by different gene constructs and the predicted structure of RNA transcribed from the transgenes.


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Correspondence to Peter M. Waterhouse.

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Smith, N., Singh, S., Wang, MB. et al. Total silencing by intron-spliced hairpin RNAs. Nature 407, 319–320 (2000).

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