Nonsense-mediated decay targets have multiple sequence-related features that can inhibit translation

Z G Zhang, L Zhou, L D Hu, Y F Zhu, H Xu, Y Liu, X F Chen, X F Yi, X Y Kong, Laurence D Hurst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (SciVal)
151 Downloads (Pure)


Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) is a surveillance system that eliminates transcripts with premature termination codons. In this study, we show that mRNAs targeted by NMD are also suppressed at the translational level. The low translational efficiency (TE) is a consequence of multiple features acting in concert, including low translation initiation rate, mediated by 5` secondary structure and by use of weak initiation sites, and low translation elongation speed, mediated by low codon usage bias. Despite low elongation rates, NMD transcripts show low ribosome density in the coding sequence, probably owing to low initiation rates, high abortion rates or rapid transit of the ribosome following initiation failure. The low TE is observed in the absence of NMD and is not explained by low transcript abundance. Translational inefficiency is flexible, such that NMD targets have increased TE upon starvation. We propose that the low TE predisposes to NMD and/or that it is part of a mechanism for regulation of NMD transcripts.
Original languageEnglish
Article number442
JournalMolecular Systems Biology
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • translation repression
  • translation efficiency
  • nonsense-mediated mRNA decay


Dive into the research topics of 'Nonsense-mediated decay targets have multiple sequence-related features that can inhibit translation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this