Vectors and parameters that enhance the efficacy of RNAi-mediated gene disruption in transgenic Drosophila

Benjamin Haley, Bryon Foys, Michael Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Whole-genome transgenic RNAi libraries permit systematic genetic screens in individual tissues of Drosophila. However, there is a high incidenceof nonspecific phenotypes because of off-target effects. To minimize such effects, it is essential to obtain a deeper understanding of the specificity of action of RNAi. Here, in vivo assays are used to determine the minimum, contiguous nucleotide pairing required between an siRNA and a target mRNA to generate a phenotype. We observe that as few as 16 nucleotides of contiguous homology are sufficient to attenuate gene activity. This finding provides an explanation for the high incidence of off-target effects observed in RNAi-based genetic screens. Toward improving the efficacy of RNAi-induced phenotypes in vivo, we describe siRNA expression vectors that allow coexpression of one or more siRNAs with a fluorescent reporter gene in cultured cells or transgenic flies. This expression systemmakes use of the small intron fromthe ftz segmentation gene to provide efficient processing of synthetic siRNAs froma reporter transcript. These studies provide a foundation for the specific and effective use of gene silencing in transgenic Drosophila.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11435-11440
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number25
StatePublished - Jun 22 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Intron
  • miRNA
  • shRNA


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