Destabilization of Eukaryote mRNAs by 5′ Proximal Stop Codons Can Occur Independently of the Nonsense-Mediated mRNA Decay Pathway

Barbara Gorgoni, Yun-Bo Zhao, J. Krishnan* (Corresponding Author), Ian Stansfield* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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In eukaryotes, the binding of poly(A) binding protein (PAB) to the poly(A) tail is central to maintaining mRNA stability. PABP interacts with the translation termination apparatus, and with eIF4G to maintain 3′–5′ mRNA interactions as part of an mRNA closed loop. It is however unclear how ribosome recycling on a closed loop mRNA is influenced by the proximity of the stop codon to the poly(A) tail, and how post-termination ribosome recycling affects mRNA stability. We show that in a yeast disabled for nonsense mediated mRNA decay (NMD), a PGK1 mRNA with an early stop codon at codon 22 of the reading frame is still highly unstable, and that this instability cannot be significantly countered even when 50% stop codon readthrough is triggered. In an NMD-deficient mutant yeast, stable reporter alleles with more 3′ proximal stop codons could not be rendered unstable through Rli1-depletion, inferring defective Rli1 ribosome recycling is insufficient in itself to trigger mRNA instability. Mathematical modelling of a translation system including the effect of ribosome recycling and poly(A) tail shortening supports the hypothesis that impaired ribosome recycling from 5′ proximal stop codons may compromise initiation processes and thus destabilize the mRNA. A model is proposed wherein ribosomes undergo a maturation process during early elongation steps, and acquire competency to re-initiate on the same mRNA as translation elongation progresses beyond the very 5′ proximal regions of the mRNA.
Original languageEnglish
Article number800
Number of pages25
Issue number8
Early online date31 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding: This work was supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council [BBSRC grant numbers BB/I020926/1 to I.S. and J.K., and BB/N017161/1 to IS].

Supplementary Materials: The following are available online at, Supplementary methods and Table S1: Primers used in this study.


  • translation
  • mRNA decay
  • mathematical modelling
  • translational regulation
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae


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