From Yeast to Mammals, the Nonsense-Mediated mRNA Decay as a Master Regulator of Long Non-Coding RNAs Functional Trajectory
The Nonsense-Mediated mRNA Decay (NMD) has been classically viewed as a translation-dependent RNA surveillance pathway degrading aberrant mRNAs containing premature stop codons. However, it is now clear that mRNA quality control represents only one face of the multiple functions of NMD. Indeed, NMD also regulates the physiological expression of normal mRNAs, and more surprisingly, of long non-coding (lnc)RNAs. Here, we review the different mechanisms of NMD activation in yeast and mammals, and we discuss the molecular bases of the NMD sensitivity of lncRNAs, considering the functional roles of NMD and of translation in the metabolism of these transcripts. In this regard, we describe several examples of functional micropeptides produced from lncRNAs. We propose that translation and NMD provide potent means to regulate the expression of lncRNAs, which might be critical for the cell to respond to environmental changes.