Galen of Pergamon studied nerve function by shearing nerves in various species including monkeys, dogs, bulls and even elephants (humans being off limits to researchers; Sarton, 1954). An analogous strategy to determine gene function by ablating gene expression has recently been developed. RNA interference (RNAi) is a cellular response to double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) apparently as a defense against viral or transposon activity (Denli and Hannon, 2003; Dykxhoorn et al., 2003; Plasterk, 2002; Zamore, 2002). By activating this ancient defense mechanism through the introduction of artificial dsRNA, it is now possible to inhibit expression of almost any gene in almost any cell type, among them neuronal cells. In mammalian cells the active RNAi species must be short, approximately 21 nucleotide RNAs; these 21-bp species are called short interfering RNA (siRNA; Fig. 1).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2004


  • AGRP
  • Dicer
  • RNAi
  • a central protein in RNAi: produces siRNA from dsRNA and shRNA, or microRNA from longer transcripts from micro genes
  • agouti-related protein
  • dsRNA
  • neuroscience
  • siRNA, RNA interference


Dive into the research topics of 'Lobotomy of genes: Use of RNA interference in neuroscience'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this