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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2006 (2006), Article ID 18657, 12 pages
Review Article

Transplacental RNAi: Deciphering Gene Function in the Postimplantation-Staged Embryo

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Medical School, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0616, USA

Received 1 February 2006; Revised 26 April 2006; Accepted 2 May 2006

Copyright © 2006 K. Sue O'Shea et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


RNAi offers the opportunity to examine the role in postimplantation development of genes that cause preimplantation lethality and to create allelic series of targeted embryos. We have delivered constituitively expressed short hairpin (sh) RNAs to pregnant mice during the early postimplantation period of development and observed gene knockdown and defects that phenocopy the null embryo. We have silenced genes that have not yet been “knocked out” in the mouse (geminin and Wnt8b), those required during earlier cleavage stages of development (nanog), and genes required at implantation (Bmp4, Bmp7) singly and in combination (Bmp4 + Bmp7), and obtained unique phenotypes. We have also determined a role in postimplantation development of two transcripts identified in a differential display RT-PCR screen of genes induced in ES cells by noggin exposure, Aggf1 and an Est (GenBank AK008955). Systemic delivery of shRNAs provides a valuable approach to gene silencing in the embryo.