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Gene Silencing. Fire’s, Mello’s Discoveries


Genes play important roles in physiological processes in the human body. Advancements in the field of biology have resulted in discoveries of essential processes with regard to genes. An example of such processes is RNA interference (RNAi), which has been found to have a role in inhibiting gene expression. The inhibition of gene expression occurs when specific mRNA molecules are destroyed. This paper aims at discussing the biographies of Andrew Z. Fire and Craig C. Mello, who were instrumental in discovering RNAi. In addition, the essay offers a discussion with regard to the discovery and its impact.

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Biography of Andrew Z. Fire

Andrew Z. Fire was born in 1959 and he spent his early days in California, where he was educated. His undergraduate studies focused on mathematics, before he proceeded to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for a Ph.D in Biology. While at the MIT, he was mentored by a great biologist by the name Philip Sharp. He later moved to England to work as a research fellow. The Nobel Prize winner concentrated on the studies of RNA from 1986 to 2003 when he studied embryological aspects of human development at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. The biologist and his colleagues published their studies about the role of RNAi in gene silencing, but it was not until 2006 that he was recognized for his meticulous work by sharing the Novel prize in Physiology with his co-author of a study that they published in 1998.

Biography of Craig C. Mello

Craig Cameron Mello is a distinguished American molecular biologist who was born in 1960. He was educated at Brown University, where he majored in biochemistry and molecular biology. He earned his Ph.D in molecular biology in 1990 at Harvard University. He later focused on cancer research for his post-doctoral studies. He was awarded with a Nobel Prize in 2006 for his role in unravelling the inhibition of gene expression through RNAi.

Impact of the discovery

The discovery of gene silencing through RNAi is an important step in the advancement of biology because it could be applied in many biological studies. Researchers focus on understanding the role of gene expression and silencing through several molecular pathways in both disease and healthy states. For example, biologists can apply the results from the discovery to understand how important proteins are prevented from being produced in disease states. With such an understanding, researchers can develop molecular networks that could hinder the interference of mRNA.

Explanation of gene silencing and RNAi

Genes code for specific proteins in the body, which have diverse physiological roles. In order for a gene to be expressed, DNA segment that specifies a particular gene product must be transcribed and translated. DNA transcription results in the formation of mRNA molecules that are translated to form amino acids, which combine to create protein molecules. A gene is silenced through RNAi if the mRNA molecules produced from the process of transcription are destroyed. Craig and Fire found that both the siRNA and miRNA molecules could be involved in RNA interference. Specifically, the two types of RNA bind to particular regions on mRNA and prevent the binding of important translation factors. Although RNAi has disadvantages, it has the benefits of preventing cells from the harmful effects of parasitic nucleotide sequences. In addition, it is essential in development.


In conclusion, a particular gene segment codes for protein molecules that have important roles in the body. Andrew Z. Fire and Craig C. Mellon discovered the crucial role of RNAi in gene regulation. The discovery has many applications in biology. Specifically, a gene is silenced when mRNA molecules are destroyed, leading to a disruption of protein production machinery in the cell.

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