Quality and quantity control of gene expression by nonsense-mediated mRNA decay

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2019 Jul;20(7):406-420. doi: 10.1038/s41580-019-0126-2.


Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) is one of the best characterized and most evolutionarily conserved cellular quality control mechanisms. Although NMD was first found to target one-third of mutated, disease-causing mRNAs, it is now known to also target ~10% of unmutated mammalian mRNAs to facilitate appropriate cellular responses - adaptation, differentiation or death - to environmental changes. Mutations in NMD genes in humans are associated with intellectual disability and cancer. In this Review, we discuss how NMD serves multiple purposes in human cells by degrading both mutated mRNAs to protect the integrity of the transcriptome and normal mRNAs to control the quantities of unmutated transcripts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / genetics
  • Intellectual Disability / metabolism*
  • Mutation*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Nonsense Mediated mRNA Decay*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Neoplasm / biosynthesis*
  • RNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Transcriptome*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Neoplasm