Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay: an intricate machinery that shapes transcriptomes

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2015 Nov;16(11):665-77. doi: 10.1038/nrm4063. Epub 2015 Sep 23.


Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) is probably the best characterized eukaryotic RNA degradation pathway. Through intricate steps, a set of NMD factors recognize and degrade mRNAs with translation termination codons that are positioned in abnormal contexts. However, NMD is not only part of a general cellular quality control system that prevents the production of aberrant proteins. Mammalian cells also depend on NMD to dynamically adjust their transcriptomes and their proteomes to varying physiological conditions. In this Review, we discuss how NMD targets mRNAs, the types of mRNAs that are targeted, and the roles of NMD in cellular stress, differentiation and maturation processes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Codon, Nonsense / genetics*
  • Embryonic Development / genetics
  • Mammals
  • Nonsense Mediated mRNA Decay / genetics*
  • Protein Biosynthesis / genetics
  • Proteome / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Transcriptome*


  • Codon, Nonsense
  • Proteome
  • RNA, Messenger