Can gene knockout (e.g. by CRISPR) be referred to as gene inhibition? I am trying to use precise words for a manuscript. We first showed siRNA of a gene has effect X. We also found knockout of the gene has the same effect. For the MS, could I say:

Knockout of the gene showed effect X, confirming inhibition of the gene causes X.

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    $\begingroup$ This is really a question of English rather than science. Look up inhibition in a good dictionary, do a Google search for “inhibition of the gene” or search your electronic reprint collection to find that no reputable native speaker would ever use that phrase. That is how you check usage in a foreign language. You say you want to be precise. What precisely does knockout do? Remove the gene? inactivate it? Or what? Read a review to find what words are used. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Oct 20, 2021 at 22:19

1 Answer 1


Looking to a standard source of definitions, the Systems Biology Ontology definition of inhibition is "Negative modulation of the execution of a process."

As such, it doesn't really make sense to talk about inhibiting a gene per se. What people are actually doing when they say that is using a shorthand to describe inhibiting either the expression of the gene or the activity of its product.

siRNA fits this quite well, as there you are talking about inhibiting gene expression. Knockout, on the other hand, means the gene isn't there to have its expression inhibited.

I would thus recommend not referring to knockout as inhibition. A better phrasing of your sentence above might be: "Knockout of the gene showed effect X, consistent with the prior result in which siRNA inhibition of the gene also produced effect X."


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