Key capabilities for contemporary RNA research include RNA synthesis for in vitro analysis or transfection, RNA modification and processing, reverse transcription of RNA for cloning and expression analysis, and detection of RNA.
One of the advances in RNA research is the discovery that small RNAs play a major role in the post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. Small RNA-mediated RNA interference (RNAi) was initially discovered in nematodes and plants and is widely found in eukaryotic organisms, and similar small RNA guided regulatory pathways appear to be operative in prokaryotes. Eukaryotic small RNAs play critical roles in regulating gene expression in development, cancer biology, anti-viral defense and chromatin modification and a given RNA can have many regulatory targets. Researchers have capitalized on regulatory pathways mediated by small RNAs to enable analyses of gene functions that were not previously discernable.