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Morpholinos do not degrade their target RNA molecules, unlike many antisense structural types (e.g., phosphorothioates, siRNA). Instead, Morpholinos act by "steric blocking", binding to a target sequence within an RNA and simply getting in the way of molecules that might otherwise interact with the RNA. Morpholino oligos are often used to investigate the role of a specific mRNA transcript in an embryo. Developmental biologists inject Morpholino oligos into eggs or embryos of zebrafish, African clawed frog (Xenopus), sea urchin, and killifish (F. heteroclitus) producing morphant embryos, or electroporate Morpholinos into chick embryos at later stages of development. With appropriate cytosolic delivery systems, Morpholinos are effective in cell culture.
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