The exon junction complex (EJC) is an abundant messenger ribonucleoprotein (mRNP) component that is assembled during splicing and binds to mRNAs upstream of exon-exon junctions. EJCs accompany the mRNA during its entire life in the nucleus and the cytoplasm and communicate the information about the splicing process and the position of introns. Specifically, the EJC's core components and its associated proteins regulate different steps of gene expression, including pre-mRNA splicing, mRNA export, translation, and nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD). This review summarizes the most important functions and main protagonists in the life of the EJC. It also provides an overview of the latest findings on the assembly, composition and molecular activities of the EJC and presents them in the chronological order, in which they play a role in the EJC's life cycle.
Keywords: RNA processing; RNA-binding protein; gene regulation; mRNA.