RNA interference in parasitic helminths: current situation, potential pitfalls and future prospects

Geldhof, P., Visser, A., Clark, D., Saunders, G., Britton, C., Gilleard, J., Berriman, M. and Knox, D. (2007) RNA interference in parasitic helminths: current situation, potential pitfalls and future prospects. Parasitology, 134, pp. 609-619. (doi: 10.1017/S0031182006002071) (PMID:17201997)

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Abstract

RNA interference (RNAi) has become an invaluable tool for the functional analysis of genes in a wide variety of organisms including the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Recently, attempts have been made to apply this technology to parasitic helminths of animals and plants with variable success. Gene knockdown has been reported for Schistosoma mansoni by soaking or electroporating different life-stages in dsRNA. Similar approaches have been tested on parasitic nematodes which clearly showed that, under certain conditions, it was possible to interfere with gene expression. However, despite these successes, the current utility of this technology in parasite research is questionable. First, problems have arisen with the specificity of RNAi. Treatment of the parasites with dsRNA resulted, in many cases, in non-specific effects. Second, the current RNAi methods have a limited efficiency and effects are sometimes difficult to reproduce. This was especially the case in strongylid parasites where only a small number of genes were susceptible to RNAi-mediated gene knockdown. The future application of RNAi in parasite functional genomics will greatly depend on how we can overcome these difficulties. Optimization of the dsRNA delivery methods and in vitro culture conditions will be the major challenges.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gilleard, Professor John and Geldhof, Prof Peter and Britton, Dr Collette
Authors: Geldhof, P., Visser, A., Clark, D., Saunders, G., Britton, C., Gilleard, J., Berriman, M., and Knox, D.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Infection Immunity and Inflammation
Journal Name:Parasitology
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0031-1820
ISSN (Online):1469-8161

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
351421Adaptation of caenorhabditis elegans technology to identification and expression of parasite target genesCollette BrittonBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)S20387Infection Immunity and Inflammation Life Sciences