We investigated the potential of double-stranded RNA to interfere with the function of genes in Drosophila. Injection of dsRNA into embryos resulted in potent and specific interference of several genes that were tested. In contrast, single-stranded RNA weakly interfered with gene activity. The method was used to determine the reception mechanism of the morphogen Wingless. Interference of the frizzled and Drosophila frizzled 2 genes together produced defects in embryonic patterning that mimic loss of wingless function. Interference of either gene alone had no effect on patterning. Epistasis analysis indicates that frizzled and Drosophila frizzled 2 act downstream of wingless and upstream of zeste-white3 in the Wingless pathway. Our results demonstrate that dsRNA interference can be used to analyze many aspects of gene function.
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