Nonsense-Mediated mRNA Decay (NMD)


School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Rochester Medical Center


Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and Professor, Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry; Director, Center for RNA Biology, University of Rochester  


Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay, also called NMD, is the body’s way of proofreading mRNAs, which take genetic instructions from DNA and use them to create proteins that carry out our body’s functions. Sometimes mRNAs are faulty and, if left intact, would lead to the creation of toxic proteins that cause disease. Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay is like an inspector who examines products coming off an assembly line and removes broken or damaged goods. By destroying flawed mRNAs, nonsense-mediated mRNA decay ensures that normal, healthy proteins are created. NMD is critically important in both normal and disease states and is leading to new therapeutic approaches for virtually all disease processes, from cancer, to heart disease, to neurologic disorders.


Maquat first reported her discovery of NMD in the journal Cell in 1981 when she was at the McArdle Lab for Cancer Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has conducted much of the subsequent research on NMD at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.