Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay: terminating erroneous gene expression

Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2004 Jun;16(3):293-9. doi: 10.1016/


Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay is a surveillance pathway that reduces errors in gene expression by eliminating aberrant mRNAs that encode incomplete polypeptides. Recent experiments suggest a working model whereby premature and normal translation termination events are distinct as a consequence of the spatial relationship between the termination codon and mRNA binding proteins, a relationship partially established by nuclear pre-mRNA processing. Aberrant termination then leads to both translational repression and an increased susceptibility of the mRNA to multiple ribonucleases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • Animals
  • Codon, Nonsense
  • Codon, Terminator
  • Gene Expression*
  • Humans
  • Protein Biosynthesis / genetics
  • RNA Stability*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • Codon, Nonsense
  • Codon, Terminator
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins