Transcript level is a key factor affecting RNAi efficiency

Jiasheng Chen, Yingchuan Peng, Hainan Zhang, Kangxu Wang, Yujie Tang, Jing Gao, Chunqing Zhao, Guanheng Zhu, Subba Reddy Palli, Zhaojun Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Efficiency is the basis for the application of RNA interference (RNAi) technology. Actually, RNAi efficiency varies greatly among insect species, tissues and genes. Previous efforts have revealed the mechanisms for variation among insect species and tissues. Here, we investigated the reason for variable efficiency among the target genes in the same insect. First, we tested the genes sampled randomly from Tribolium castaneum, Locusta migratoria and Drosophila S2 cells for both their expression levels and sensitivity to RNAi. The results indicated that the genes with higher expression levels were more sensitive to RNAi. Statistical analysis showed that the correlation coefficients between transcript levels and knockdown efficiencies were 0.8036 (n = 90), 0.7255 (n = 18) and 0.9505 (n = 13), respectively in T. castaneum, L. migratoria and Drosophila S2 cells. Subsequently, ten genes with varied expression level in different tissues (midgut and carcass without midgut) of T. castaneum were tested. The results indicated that the higher knockdown efficiency was always obtained in the tissue where the target gene expressed higher. In addition, three genes were tested in different developmental stages, larvae and pupae of T. castaneum. The results found that when the expression level increased after insect pupation, these genes became more sensitive to RNAi. Thus, all the proofs support unanimously that transcript level is a key factor affecting RNAi sensitivity. This finding allows for a better understanding of the RNAi efficiency variation and lead to effective or efficient use of RNAi technology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104872
JournalPesticide Biochemistry and Physiology
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Gene sensitivity to RNAi
  • RNA interference
  • RNAi efficiency variation
  • Transcript level

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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