What is RNAi? A Brief Primer

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What is RNA interference? This technology, known as RNAi for short, triggers a natural gene silencing process that occurs when a virus invades a cell. As many viruses have double-stranded RNA, the cell has a built-in mechanism to attack this RNA: When double-stranded RNA enters the cell, an enzyme called Dicer chops it up into short 21-25 base-pair segments (called siRNA, for short interfering RNA), which then combine with another group of enzymes to form a complex called RISC, or RNA-induced silencing complex.

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