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Free Content UPF1 is required for nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) and RNAi in Arabidopsis

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Aberrant mRNAs containing premature termination codons (PTCs) have the potential to be translated into truncated proteins, which could act to the detriment of the organism by interfering with normal cellular processes. Eukaryotes have mechanisms of mRNA quality control that identify PTC-containing transcripts and target them for destruction, a process known as nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD). Surprising differences have been reported in the mechanisms of NMD between different organisms. UPF1 and UPF3 are structurally unrelated proteins, which function in the NMD pathway in yeast, mammals, Drosophila and Caenorhabditis elegans. Here we show that NMD in plants requires UPF1, as mRNAs containing PTCs become stabilized in upf1-5 mutants. However, in contrast to NMD in mammals, UPF1-dependent NMD is capable of targeting both spliced and unspliced PTC-containing mRNAs. An allelic series of upf1 mutants exhibits a range of unexpected vegetative and floral abnormalities, including jagged leaves, late flowering, fused flowers and seedling lethality. We also show that mutants in UPF3 share these abnormalities. As both UPF1 and UPF3 are required for NMD, the similar phenotypes of the upf1 and upf3 mutants suggest that NMD regulates a common set of genes required for plant development and survival. Finally, gene silencing by an inverted repeat transgene is impaired in upf1-5 mutants, indicating a connection between UPF1 and RNA interference in plants.
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Keywords: Arabidopsis; NMD; RNA interference; UPF1; development; nonsense-mediated mRNA decay

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2006

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