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Author

Leah Milazzo

Date of Award

Spring 2009

Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Scott Knight

Abstract

RNA interference (RNAi) is a potent gene silencing mechanism that is initiated by double stranded RNA (dsRNA) molecules. Silencing may occur either posttranscriptionally by degrading single stranded RNA (ssRNA) complementary to the initiating dsRNA molecule, or it may instead induce the formation of heterochromatin to silence pretranscriptionally. In either case, this mechanism is an exceptionally important mode of transcript regulation, and the further understanding of its mechanism has become an area of intense research since its recent discovery. RNAi was first discovered in the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, and has subsequently been found in all eukaryotes tested; prokaryotes do not have the machinery required for RNAi. It has been estimated that more than one third of the human genome may be regulated by this mechanism – assigning a potential purpose to the previously labeled “junk” DNA that is not gene‐coding [1].

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