RNA interference (RNAi) is a flexible gene silencing mechanism that responds to double-stranded RNA by suppressing homologous genes. Here, we report the characterization of RNAi effector complexes (RISCs) that contain small interfering RNAs and microRNAs (miRNAs). We identify two putative RNA-binding proteins, the Drosophila homolog of the fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), dFXR, and VIG (Vasa intronic gene), through their association with RISC. FMRP, the product of the human fragile X locus, regulates the expression of numerous mRNAs via an unknown mechanism. The possibility that dFXR, and potentially FMRP, use, at least in part, an RNAi-related mechanism for target recognition suggests a potentially important link between RNAi and human disease.
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