Messenger RNA (mRNA) degradation is an important element of gene expression that can be modulated by alterations in translation, such as reductions in initiation or elongation rates. Reducing translation initiation strongly affects mRNA degradation by driving mRNA toward the assembly of a decapping complex, leading to decapping. While mRNA stability decreases as a consequence of translational inhibition, in apparent contradiction several external stresses both inhibit translation initiation and stabilize mRNA. A key difference in these processes is that stresses induce multiple responses, one of which stabilizes mRNAs at the initial and rate-limiting step of general mRNA decay. Because this increase in mRNA stability is directly induced by stress, it is independent of the translational effects of stress, which provide the cell with an opportunity to assess its response to changing environmental conditions. After assessment, the cell can store mRNAs, reinitiate their translation or, alternatively, embark on a program of enhanced mRNA decay en masse. Finally, recent results suggest that mRNA decay is not limited to non-translating messages and can occur when ribosomes are not initiating but are still elongating on mRNA. This review will discuss the models for the mechanisms of these processes and recent developments in understanding the relationship between translation and general mRNA degradation, with a focus on yeast as a model system.
John Wiley & Sons, 2014.