Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) is a eukaryotic quality control system that recognizes and degrades transcripts containing NMD cis elements in their 3′untranslated region (UTR). In yeasts, unusually long 3′UTRs act as NMD cis elements, whereas in vertebrates, NMD is induced by introns located >50 nt downstream from the stop codon. In vertebrates, splicing leads to deposition of exon junction complex (EJC) onto the mRNA, and then 3′UTR-bound EJCs trigger NMD. It is proposed that this intron-based NMD is vertebrate specific, and it evolved to eliminate the misproducts of alternative splicing. Here, we provide evidence that similar EJC-mediated intron-based NMD functions in plants, suggesting that this type of NMD is evolutionary conserved. We demonstrate that in plants, like in vertebrates, introns located >50 nt from the stop induces NMD. We show that orthologs of all core EJC components are essential for intron-based plant NMD and that plant Partner of Y14 and mago (PYM) also acts as EJC disassembly factor. Moreover, we found that complex autoregulatory circuits control the activity of plant NMD. We demonstrate that expression of suppressor with morphogenic effect on genitalia (SMG)7, which is essential for long 3′UTR- and intron-based NMD, is regulated by both types of NMD, whereas expression of Barentsz EJC component is downregulated by intron-based NMD.
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