Archive ScienceWatch



Julie Ahringer talks with and answers a few questions about this month's Fast Moving Front in the field of Molecular Biology & Genetics.
Ahringer Article: Systematic functional analysis of the Caenorhabditis elegans genome using RNAi
Authors: Kamath, RS;Fraser, AG;Dong, Y;Poulin, G;Durbin, R;Gotta, M;Kanapin, A;Le Bot, N;Moreno, S;Sohrmann, M;Welchman, DP;Zipperlen, P;Ahringer , J
Journal: NATURE, 421 (6920): 231-237 JAN 16 2003
Univ Cambridge, Wellcome Trust Canc Res UK Inst, Tennis Court Rd, Cambridge CB2 1QR, England.
Univ Cambridge, Wellcome Trust Canc Res UK Inst, Cambridge CB2 1QR, England.
Univ Cambridge, Dept Genet, Cambridge CB2 1QR, England.
(addresses have been truncated)

Why do you think your paper is highly cited?

We carried out the first systematic inactivation of most of the genes in any animal's genome, by creating an RNA interference library for the nematode C. elegans. Other laboratories around the world are using the library we created to carry out screens for genes involved in different biological processes. This has changed the C. elegans field.

Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or synthesis of knowledge?

We developed methods for genome-wide RNAi and made discoveries on the properties of genes and genome organization. For example, we found that essential genes show clustering in the genome.

Would you summarize the significance of your paper in layman's terms?

We know the DNA sequence of many organisms and that many genes in all animals are similar. However, in most cases, we don't know the function of the genes. This knowledge is necessary for understanding disease and how we develop. We tested, one by one, the function of most genes in the roundworm C. elegans using a new genetic technique called RNAi. Many laboratories are now using the system we developed to study biological processes shared across all animals. Other investigators have extended these approaches to other animals, which is speeding up the rate of biological discovery and understanding.

Where do you see your research leading in the future?

We are using genome-wide RNAi screening to study different biological processes, such as cell polarity, transcription regulation, and genome evolution.

Dr. Julie Ahringer
The Gurdon Institute
University of Cambridge
Cambridge, UK

Keywords: Caenorhabditis elegans genome, C. elegans, RNAi, cell polarity, transcription regulation, genome evolution.


2008 : May 2008 - Fast Moving Fronts : Julie Ahringer