The meaning of nonsense

Trends Cell Biol. 2008 Jul;18(7):315-21. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2008.04.005. Epub 2008 Jun 2.


To ensure the accuracy of gene expression, eukaryotes have evolved several surveillance mechanisms. One of the best-studied quality control mechanisms is nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD), which recognizes and degrades transcripts harboring a premature translation-termination codon (PTC), thereby preventing the production of faulty proteins. NMD regulates approximately 10% of human mRNAs, and its physiological importance is manifested by the fact that approximately 30% of disease-associated mutations generate PTCs. Although different mechanisms of PTC recognition have been proposed for different species, recent studies in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans, plants and mammals suggest a conserved model. Here, we summarize the latest results and discuss an emerging model for NMD and its implications for the regulation of gene expression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / genetics
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional
  • RNA Stability*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*


  • RNA, Messenger