Indexed on: 08 Dec '09Published on: 08 Dec '09Published in: Annual review of entomology
The increasing availability of insect genomes has revealed a large number of genes with unknown functions and the resulting problem of how to discover these functions. The RNA interference (RNAi) technique, which generates loss-of-function phenotypes by depletion of a chosen transcript, can help to overcome this challenge. RNAi can unveil the functions of new genes, lead to the discovery of new functions for old genes, and find the genes for old functions. Moreover, the possibility of studying the functions of homologous genes in different species can allow comparisons of the genetic networks regulating a given function in different insect groups, thereby facilitating an evolutionary insight into developmental processes. RNAi also has drawbacks and obscure points, however, such as those related to differences in species sensitivity. Disentangling these differences is one of the main challenges in the RNAi field.