Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay: molecular insights and mechanistic variations across species

Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2005 Jun;17(3):316-25. doi: 10.1016/


Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) is an mRNA surveillance pathway that ensures the rapid degradation of mRNAs containing premature translation termination codons (PTCs), thereby preventing the synthesis of truncated and potentially harmful proteins. In addition, this pathway regulates the expression of approximately 10% of the transcriptome and is essential in mice. Although NMD is conserved in eukaryotes, recent studies in several organisms have revealed that different mechanisms have evolved to discriminate natural from premature stop codons and to degrade the targeted mRNAs. With the elucidation of the first crystal structures of components of the NMD machinery, the way is paved towards a molecular understanding of the protein interaction network underlying this process.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Codon, Nonsense / genetics*
  • Exoribonucleases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Molecular
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • RNA Stability / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Species Specificity


  • Codon, Nonsense
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Exoribonucleases