The RNA Interference Functional Oncogenomics Laboratory (RIFOL) is the core facility for gene silencing library screening at Amsterdam UMC. Being established at the Cancer Center Amsterdam, most functional genomic screens done at the RIFOL study the biology of cancer or aim to identify new footholds for the treatment of cancer.

The biological process of RNA interference provides a wealth of opportunities for functional genomics research. Using gene silencing, the genetic cause of a particular cellular function can be assessed by individually suppressing gene transcripts in cells and studying changes in the phenotype of these cells. Pinpointing genes that are functionally associated with (aberrant) phenotypes contributes to a better understanding of the biology of (diseased) cells as well as to the discovery of new targets for therapy.

The RIFOL provides researchers access to genome-wide human gene silencing libraries, i.e., the 21K Dharmacon siARRAY Human Genome Library and an 85K (~ 4 clones/gene) Open Biosystems Human pLKO.1 TRC Lentiviral short hairpin RNA library. In addition, screening libraries (e.g. miRNAs, gRNAs, small molecules) brought in by users can be handled. Arrayed whole genome libraries and subset library collections are provided, allowing flexible screening in a variety of customer-defined library formats.

At the RIFOL, library replication/reformatting and cellular screening with primarily uniform well readout assays is done in 96- and 384-well format, using a modular liquid handling platform. The RIFOL operates as a staff-assisted research hotel, where users perform their screens.

The RIFOL personnel assist screening efforts by preparing the libraries, by developing liquid handling applications, by maintaining and validating performance of equipment, by providing guidance in designing and performing functional screening assays, by operating key liquid handling equipment, by training users in the operation of equipment and by advising on data analysis.


Victor W. van Beusechem, Laboratory Medical Oncology