To address the biological function of RNA interference (RNAi)-related pathways in mammals, we disrupted the gene Dicer1 in mice. Loss of Dicer1 lead to lethality early in development, with Dicer1-null embryos depleted of stem cells. Coupled with our inability to generate viable Dicer1-null embryonic stem (ES) cells, this suggests a role for Dicer, and, by implication, the RNAi machinery, in maintaining the stem cell population during early mouse development.
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