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Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay in human cells: mechanistic insights, functions beyond quality control and the double-life of NMD factors

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Review article (peer-reviewed)
Author Nicholson Pamela, Yepiskoposyan Hasmik, Metze Stefanie, Zamudio Orozco Rodolfo, Kleinschmidt Nicole, Mühlemann Oliver,
Project Quality control of gene expression: recognition and elimination of nonsense mRNA
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Review article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Cell Mol Life Sci
Volume (Issue) 67(5)
Page(s) 677 - 700
Title of proceedings Cell Mol Life Sci
DOI 10.1007/s00018-009-0177-1

Open Access


Nonsense-mediated decay is well known by the lucid definition of being a RNA surveillance mechanism that ensures the speedy degradation of mRNAs containing premature translation termination codons. However, as we review here, NMD is far from being a simple quality control mechanism; it also regulates the stability of many wild-type transcripts. We summarise the abundance of research that has characterised each of the NMD factors and present a unified model for the recognition of NMD substrates. The contentious issue of how and where NMD occurs is also discussed, particularly with regard to P-bodies and SMG6-driven endonucleolytic degradation. In recent years, the discovery of additional functions played by several of the NMD factors has further complicated the picture. Therefore, we also review the reported roles of UPF1, SMG1 and SMG6 in other cellular processes.