Tools for studying and using small RNAs: from pathways to functions & therapies

Small RNAs are key regulators of gene expression and genome function, with roles in almost every aspect of biology. Many small RNAs act through RNA interference(RNAi)-related mechanisms, which have become increasingly well understood. One class of small RNA, the microRNAs (miRNAs), naturally regulate programs of gene expression, and altered miRNA function contributes to human disease.

This poster provides an overview of the tools that have been developed to understand the functions of small RNAs and, conversely, the use of small RNAs as tools. Tools that are based on small RNAs have been exploited to investigate gene function in cultured cells and in living animals. Similar strategies are being used to discover and validate new therapeutic targets, and small RNAs themselves may offer a mechanism for inhibiting targets that are currently viewed as 'undruggable'.

Small RNA biogenesis, discovery and functional roles are explored in detail. Further, various types of research tools for examining small non-coding RNA and protein coding gene functions are outlined. Screening approaches to functional genomics are discussed as well as in vivo methods and potential therapeutic applications are covered.

Download the Nature Reviews Genetics poster (PDF 2.62 MB) »