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Genetics. 1999 Feb;151(2):605-16.

smg-7 is required for mRNA surveillance in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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  • 1Program in Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Eukaryotic mRNAs that contain premature stop codons are degraded more rapidly than their wild-type counterparts, a phenomenon termed "nonsense-mediated mRNA decay" (NMD) or "mRNA surveillance." Functions of six previously described Caenorhabditis elegans genes, smg-1 through smg-6, are required for NMD. Whereas nonsense mutant mRNAs are unstable in smg(+) genetic backgrounds, such mRNAs have normal stability in smg(-) backgrounds. Previous screens for smg mutations have likely not identified all genes involved in NMD, but efforts to identify additional smg genes are limited by the fact that almost 90% of smg mutations identified in genome-wide screens are alleles of smg-1, smg-2, or smg-5. We describe a modified screen for smg mutations that precludes isolating alleles of smg-1, smg-2, and smg-5. Using this screen, we have identified and cloned smg-7, a previously uncharacterized gene that we show is required for NMD. smg-7 is predicted to encode a novel protein that contains an acidic carboxyl terminus and two probable tetratricopeptide repeats. We provide evidence that smg-7 is cotranscribed with the previously characterized gene lin-45 and show that null alleles of smg-7 confer a temperature-sensitive defect in NMD.

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