Date Published:2007 Jan-Feb
Recently, the issue of off-target effects (OTEs) associated with long double stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) used in RNAi screens, such as those performed at the Drosophila RNAi Screening Center and other laboratories, has become a focus of great interest and some concern. Although OTEs have been recognized as an important source of false positives in mammalian studies (where short siRNAs are used as triggers), they were generally thought to be inconsequential in Drosophila RNAi experiments because of the use of long dsRNAs. Two recent papers have disputed this contention and show that significant off-target effects can take place with the use of some long dsRNAs in Drosophila cells. Together, these studies provide evidence that OTEs mediated by short homology stretches of 19nt or greater within long dsRNAs can contribute to false positives in Drosophila RNAi screens. Here, we address how widespread the occurrence of OTE is in Drosophila screens, focusing on the DRSC dsRNA collections, and we discuss the implication for the interpretation of results reported in RNAi screens to-date. Lastly, we summarize steps taken by the DRSC to redress that situation and include a set of recommendations to observe in future RNAi screens.