University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Darwin College Sciences Group > If it ain't broke, break it: using large scale RNAi gene knock-down screening in human cells to determine gene function.

If it ain't broke, break it: using large scale RNAi gene knock-down screening in human cells to determine gene function.

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The sequencing of the human genome is complete. The next great task for genomics is to determine the function of the sequence, including the function of the 22,000 genes contained in it. For many years the best way to determine the function of a gene in oragnisms such as yeast and flys has been to prevent its expression, and analyze the effect on the cells. This is known as “loss of function” screening. For various technical and ethical reasons this has not been possible in human cell systems … Until now. The recent development of a technique called RNA interference (RNAi) has allowed geneticists to rapidly and systematically perform loss-of-function experiments on every gene in the human genome. The importance of this technique was recently recognised by the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Dr Andrew Fire and Dr Craig Mello, the original discoverers of RNAi. In this talk I will describe how loss-of-function screening can be used examine gene function, the technique of RNAi, and how it is applied to screening projects. I will illustrate these points by describing my work in the field, including a screen to identify genes involved in the TRAIL anti-cancer pathway.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Sciences Group series.

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