Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay does not restrict influenza A virus propagation

Cell Microbiol. 2021 Jun;23(6):e13323. doi: 10.1111/cmi.13323. Epub 2021 Mar 18.


Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) was identified as a process to degrade flawed cellular messenger RNA (mRNA). Within the last decades it was also shown that NMD carries virus-restricting capacities and thus could be considered a part of the cellular antiviral system. As this was shown to affect primarily positive-sense single stranded RNA ((+)ssRNA) viruses there is only scarce knowledge if this also applies to negative-sense single stranded RNA ((-)ssRNA) viruses. Influenza A viruses (IAVs) harbour a segmented (-)ssRNA genome. During their replication IAVs produce numerous RNA transcripts and simultaneously impair cellular transcription and translation. The viral mRNAs hold several molecular patterns which can elicit NMD and in turn would lead to their degradation. This, in consequence, may mitigate viral propagation. Thus, we examined if a knockdown or a pharmacological inhibition of NMD key components may influence IAV replication. Additionally, we performed similar experiments with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), another (-)ssRNA virus, but with a non-segmented genome. Although it seemed that a knockdown of up-frameshift protein 1 (UPF1), the central NMD factor, slightly increased viral mRNA and protein levels, no significant alteration of viral replication could be observed, implying that the NMD machinery may not have restricting capacities against (-)ssRNA viruses.

Keywords: diseases; infection; mRNA decay; viral replication; viruses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • A549 Cells
  • Gene Silencing
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Influenza A virus / genetics*
  • Influenza A virus / physiology*
  • Nonsense Mediated mRNA Decay*
  • RNA Helicases / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / metabolism*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Viruses / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Virus Replication


  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Viral
  • Trans-Activators
  • RNA Helicases
  • UPF1 protein, human