RNA interference (RNAi) is the recently-discovered process by which double-stranded RNA silences gene activity. The mechanism by which this occurs is only partially understood, and is of great interest, since RNAi-related phenomena are essential for normal development, because RNAi is now an invaluable tool to biologists studying gene function in diverse organisms, and because of the long-term potential for using RNAi as a therapeutic agent in humans. This project focuses on a new gene required for RNA interference. The sequence of this gene suggests specific, testable hypotheses for how this gene might function in RNAi. The primary goal of this project is to determine how this gene functions. It is expected that this work will make essential contributions to understanding this important pathway. This research project will include training undergraduate students in scientific research, and each undergraduate student will attend an annual conference to present their findings. The principal investigator is a faculty mentor in UNC Chapel Hill's Research Education Support Program, which supports students from under-represented minority groups to gain research experiences and to enroll in Ph.D. programs.