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An early event in RNA interference (RNAi) is the cleavage of the initiating double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) to short pieces, 21 to 23 nucleotides in length. Here we describe a null mutation indicer-1 (dcr-1), a gene proposed to encode the enzyme that generates these short RNAs. We find thatdcr-1(−/−) animals have defects in RNAi under some, but not all, conditions. Mutant animals have germ line defects that lead to sterility, suggesting that cleavage of dsRNA to short pieces is a requisite event in normal development.
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