Biochemical principles of small RNA pathways

Qinghua Liu, Zain Paroo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


The discovery of RNA interference (RNAi) is among the most significant biomedical breakthroughs in recent history. Multiple classes of small RNA, including small-interfering RNA (siRNA), micro-RNA (miRNA), and piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA), play important roles in many fundamental biological and disease processes. Collective studies in multiple organisms, including plants, Drosophila, Caenorhabditis elegans, and mammals indicate that these pathways are highly conserved throughout evolution. Thus, scientists across disciplines have found novel pathways to unravel, new insights in probing pathology, and nascent technologies to develop. The field of RNAi also provides a clear framework for understanding fundamental principles of biochemistry. The current review highlights elegant, reason-based experimentation in discovering RNA-directed biological phenomena and the importance of robust assay development in translating these observations into mechanistic understanding. This biochemical template also provides a conceptual framework for overcoming emerging challenges in the field and for understanding an expanding small RNA world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-319
Number of pages25
JournalAnnual review of biochemistry
StatePublished - Jul 7 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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