Difference between CRISPR and RNAi


CRISPR is a set of DNA sequences that is used as a gene-editing tool. These DNA sequences are usually found in archaea and bacteria. The Cas9 enzyme cleaves any sequence complementary to the CRISPR. Thus, CRISPR along with Cas9 is used in gene editing. CRISPR-Cas is a natural immunological process in archaea and bacteria. CRISPR stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.


RNAi (RNA interference) plays a significant role in gene suppression. It also defends the cell against parasitic genomic sequences. Thus, it plays a part in immunity. RNAi is an important research tool. It can be used to induce suppression in the gene of interest. It can also be used to target viral RNAs. Likewise, RNAi based therapeutic applications can also be used to treat other diseases.

Extended Reading: RNA interference

Difference between CRISPR and RNAi



CRISPR targets DNA sequence.

RNAi targets RNA transcripts.

CRISPR-Cas9 forms a natural defence system in archaea and bacteria.

RNAi creates a pathway to suppress gene expression.

It is an important gene editing tool that cleaves DNA sequences.

It is mostly used for research and therapeutic purposes.

It creates a permanent gene disruption.

It creates temporary gene disruption.

Precise targeting with less off-target effects.

It creates more off-target effects.

Also Read: Gene Regulation

Frequently Asked Questions on Difference between CRISPR and RNAi

What is gene knockout?

It is a gene technique by which an organism’s gene is ‘knocked out’ or made inoperative. It can naturally occur through mutations. Site-specific nucleases such as TALENS, Zinc-fingers and CRISPR can also be used invivo to create a break in the DNA. This break or cleavage can also lead to mutations.

What is gene knockdown?

Gene knockdown is a technique by which the expression of a gene is much reduced. It is a gene-silencing technique used to study the role of a particular gene in cell culture.RNAi is used to create this type of gene silencing.

What is siRNA?

The small interfering RNA or siRNA operates within the pathway of RNAi. It plays an important role in preventing the translation process. Usually, the long double-stranded RNA is cleaved by the Dicer enzyme to form the small interfering RNA. This also enables the formation of RNA induced silencing complex.

Also see: Tools of Recombinant DNA Technology

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