Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Small Interfering RNA (siRNA)

  • Joe C. BragueEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_188-1



Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are short (~20 nucleotides) RNA sequences that prevent the translation of specific genes by degrading messenger RNA (mRNA) using RNA interference (RNAi).


Small interfering ribonucleic acids (siRNAs) are a class of small RNA molecules that activate the RISC (RNA-induced silencing complex) pathway to degrade mRNA and prevent the synthesis of proteins (translation). The biological functions of siRNA are to protect genomic integrity from invasive nucleic acids, such as viruses, and to shape chromosome structure.

The discovery of small interfering RNAs’ (siRNAs’) ability to regulate gene expression is among one of the most significant advances in biology in recent years. Fire et al. (1998) were the first to discover that double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) produced a greater silencing effect than single-stranded RNA alone, arguing for the activation of an RNAi process to produce a viral resistance. It is now...

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NeurobiologyUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Annika Paukner
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Comparative EthologyEunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human DevelopmentPoolesvilleUSA