The Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) pathway selectively degrades mRNAs harboring premature termination codons (PTCs) but also regulates the abundance of a large number of cellular RNAs. The central role of NMD in the control of gene expression requires the existence of buffering mechanisms that tightly regulate the magnitude of this pathway. Here, we will focus on the mechanism of NMD with an emphasis on the role of RNA helicases in the transition from NMD complexes that recognize a PTC to those that promote mRNA decay. We will also review recent strategies aimed at uncovering novel trans-acting factors and their functional role in the NMD pathway. Finally, we will describe recent progress in the study of the physiological role of the NMD response.
© The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.