Higher eukaryotes rely on AS (alternative splicing) of pre-mRNAs (mRNA precursors) to generate more than one protein product from a single gene and to regulate mRNA stability and translational activity. An important example of the latter function involves an interplay between AS and NMD (nonsense-mediated decay), a cytoplasmic quality control mechanism eliminating mRNAs containing PTCs (premature translation termination codons). Although originally identified as an error surveillance process, AS-NMD additionally provides an efficient strategy for deterministic regulation of gene expression outputs. In this review, we discuss recently published examples of AS–NMD and delineate functional contexts where recurrent use of this mechanism orchestrates expression of important genes.

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