Knockdown and knockout are two methods used to silence a target gene of interest. The partial (knockdown) or complete (knockout) silencing of a target gene enables researchers to identify and validate biological targets of human health significance. These techniques also enable researchers to better understand disease processes, create negative controls, and advance therapeutic discovery.
Quantitative Western blotting and the In-Cell Western™ Assay can be used to confirm the effects of gene knockdown/knockout. Both assays can be performed with exceptional quality and consistency using Odyssey® Imagers, such as the Odyssey M.
RNA interference (RNAi) is a naturally occurring process to inhibit, or knockdown, the normal expression of a gene by deactivating or suppressing mRNA. RNAi can be artificially replicated in the laboratory using an RNAi vehicle, such as siRNA, shRNA, or other RNA-producing vector constructs. This allows for experimentation with a gene of interest. Knockdown of a specific gene allows researchers to analyze genetic function or to identify targets with potential therapeutic applications.
Quantitative Western blots are an essential tool for RNAi analysis. With quantitative Western blots, you can:
In-Cell Western Assays can be used in a functional siRNA screen to measure knockdown effects in cultured cells. In-Cell Western Assays offer higher throughput for complex studies, as well as exceptionally consistent data (Z' factor).1
Hoffmann, et al. have demonstrated the In-Cell Western Assay can be used as a powerful cellular assay for genome-wide RNAi screens.2 In-Cell Western screening was used to assess the effects of knockdowns on mTORC1-dependent phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6 (rpS6).2 Their research showed In-Cell Western RNAi screening to be faster and less expensive than high-content immunofluorescent microscopy while providing similar or better statistical replicability.
CRISPR editing can be used to knockout a gene to inhibit the expression of certain proteins. Unlike knockdown, which inhibits a gene, knockout inactivates or removes a target gene completely. Like knockdown, knockout can be used to study the behavior and effects of a gene of interest to assess its function or its potential to affect human health.
The effects of gene knockout via CRISPR can be confirmed using quantitative Western blotting. Figure 5 demonstrates the use of Adenoviral (AdV) CRISPR/Cas9 to inhibit the expression of SMAD3, a protein involved in triggering pulmonary fibrosis.
The In-Cell Western Assay can be used to measure the effect of knockout in cultured cells. Figure 6 shows the efficiency of ERK1 knockout when compared to wild-type HeLa cells.
LI-COR provides products, protocols, and support for Western blotting, In-Cell Western Assays, and many other assays that help reduce variability and increase confidence in your results. Want to learn more? Contact LI-COR today and let us help you improve your knockdown/knockout confirmation.