Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay in neuronal physiology and neurodegenerationMore about Open Access at the Crick
The processes of mRNA export from the nucleus and subsequent mRNA translation in the cytoplasm are of particular relevance in eukaryotic cells. In highly polarised cells such as neurons, finely-tuned molecular regulation of these processes serves to safeguard the spatiotemporal fidelity of gene expression. Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) is a cytoplasmic translation-dependent quality control process that regulates gene expression in a wide range of scenarios in the nervous system, including neurodevelopment, learning, and memory formation. Moreover, NMD dysregulation has been implicated in a broad range of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. We discuss how NMD and related aspects of mRNA translation regulate key neuronal functions and, in particular, we focus on evidence implicating these processes in the molecular pathogenesis of neurodegeneration. Finally, we discuss the therapeutic potential and challenges of targeting mRNA translation and NMD across the spectrum of largely untreatable neurological diseases.