News of the WeekMolecular Biology

Candidate 'Gene Silencers' Found

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Science  29 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5441, pp. 886
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5441.886a

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In many organisms, adding an extra dose of a gene can have the paradoxical effect of slashing that gene's expression, but researchers have been unable to identify any molecule involved in this phenomenon, known as gene silencing. Now on page 950, molecular geneticists report that they have come up with a likely prospect: short RNA snippets, 25 nucleotides long, that match the gene being silenced. The findings don't distinguish whether these snippets cause silencing or are byproducts of it. Either way, the existence of such uniform-sized RNAs provides insight into silencing, researchers say.