A rapid and sensitive assay for quantification of siRNA efficiency and specificity.
Smart N., Scambler PJ., Riley PR.
RNA Interference has rapidly emerged as an efficient procedure for knocking down gene expression in model systems. However, cross-reactivity, whereby multiple genes may be simultaneously targeted by a single short interfering RNA (siRNA), can potentially jeopardize correct interpretation of gene function. As such, it is essential to test the specificity of a siRNA prior to a full phenotypic analysis. To this end, we have adapted a reporter-based assay harnessing the sensitivity of luciferase activity to provide a quantitative readout of relative RNAi efficacy and specificity. We have tested different siRNAs directed against Thymosin beta4 (Tbeta4); determined their effectiveness at silencing Tbeta4 and have both excluded off-target silencing of the Tbeta4 homologue Thymosin beta10 (Tbeta10) and demonstrated partial knockdown of Tbeta10 despite significant (12/23; 52%) sequence mismatch. This assay system is applicable to any RNAi study where there is a risk of targeting homologous genes and to the monitoring of off-target effects at the genome level following microarray expression profiling.