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Considering RNAi experimental design in parasitic helminths



Almost a decade has passed since the first report of RNA interference (RNAi) in a parasitic helminth. Whilst much progress has been made with RNAi informing gene function studies in disparate nematode and flatworm parasites, substantial and seemingly prohibitive difficulties have been encountered in some species, hindering progress. An appraisal of current practices, trends and ideals of RNAi experimental design in parasitic helminths is both timely and necessary for a number of reasons: firstly, the increasing availability of parasitic helminth genome/transcriptome resources means there is a growing need for gene function tools such as RNAi; secondly, fundamental differences and unique challenges exist for parasite species which do not apply to model organisms; thirdly, the inherent variation in experimental design, and reported difficulties with reproducibility undermine confidence. Ideally, RNAi studies of gene function should adopt standardised experimental design to aid reproducibility, interpretation and comparative analyses. Although the huge variations in parasite biology and experimental endpoints make RNAi experimental design standardization difficult or impractical, we must strive to validate RNAi experimentation in helminth parasites. To aid this process we identify multiple approaches to RNAi experimental validation and highlight those which we deem to be critical for gene function studies in helminth parasites.


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*Corresponding author: School of Biological Sciences, Queen's University Belfast, Medical Biology Centre, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK. Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 2059. Fax: +44 (0)28 9097 5877. E-mail:


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Considering RNAi experimental design in parasitic helminths



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