Messenger RNA (mRNA) translation and mRNA degradation are important determinants of protein output, and they are interconnected. Previously, it was thought that translation of an mRNA, as a rule, prevents its degradation. mRNA surveillance mechanisms, which degrade mRNAs as a consequence of their translation, were considered to be exceptions to this rule. Recently, however, it has become clear that many mRNAs are degraded co-translationally, and it has emerged that codon choice, by influencing the rate of ribosome elongation, affects the rate of mRNA decay. In this review, we discuss the links between translation and mRNA stability, with an emphasis on emerging data suggesting that codon optimality may regulate mRNA degradation.

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