• N NARASIMHA RAO

      Articles written in Journal of Biosciences

    • Post-transcriptional gene silencing: Basic concepts and applications

      MOHD ASHRAF ASHFAQ VDINESH KUMAR P SOMA SEKHAR REDDY CH ANIL KUMAR K SAI KUMAR N NARASIMHA RAO M TARAKESWARI M SUJATHA

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      Post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS)-mediated gene silencing exploits the cellular mechanism whereintranscripts having sequence similarity to the double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) molecules present in the cell will besubjected to degradation. PTGS is closely related to natural processes such as RNA-mediated virus resistance andcross-protection in plants. Gene silencing and the cellular machinery for affecting this phenomenon might haveevolved as a natural protective measure against viral infection in plants. In PTGS, small interfering RNA (siRNA)molecules of 21–23 nucleotides length act as homology guides for triggering the systemic degradation of transcriptshomologous to the siRNA molecules. PTGS phenomenon, first discovered in transgenic petunia plants harbouringchalcone synthase gene and termed co-suppression, has been subsequently exploited to target specific gene transcriptsfor degradation leading to manifestation of desirable traits in crop plants. Targeted gene silencing has beenachieved either through the introduction ofDNAconstructs encoding dsRNAor antisenseRNAor by deploying cosuppressionconstructs producing siRNAs against the transcript of interest. Understanding the mechanism of genesilencing has led to the development of several alternative strategies for inducing gene silencing in a precise andcontrolledway.This has paved theway for using PTGS as one of the chief functional genomics tools in plants and hashelped in unraveling themechanismofmany cellular processes and identifying the focal points in pathways, besides,opening newvistas in genetic engineering of plants for human benefits. PTGS has shown great potential in silencingthe deleterious genes efficiently so that value-added plant products could be obtained. Thus, PTGS has ushered in anew era in the genetic manipulation of plants for both applied and basic studies. In this review, we have outlined thebasics ofRNAi-mediated gene silencing and summarized thework carried out at our institute using this approach, ascase studies. In particular, adopting RNAi-mediated gene silencing (a) as a method to restore fertility in transgenicmale sterile lines developed based on orfH522 gene from sunflower PET1-CMSsource, (b) as a tool to suppress theproduction of toxic proteins, ricin and RCA, in castor, and (c) as an approach to induce bud necrosis virus resistancein sunflower has been discussed. Examples from other plant systems also have been mentioned to exemplify theconcept and utility of gene silencing in crop plants.

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