A regulated NMD mouse model supports NMD inhibition as a viable therapeutic option to treat genetic diseases

Academic Article


  • Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) targets mRNAs that contain a premature termination codon (PTC) for degradation, preventing their translation. By altering the expression of PTC-containing mRNAs, NMD modulates the inheritance pattern and severity of genetic diseases. NMD also limits the efficiency of suppressing translation termination at PTCs, an emerging therapeutic approach to treat genetic diseases caused by in-frame PTCs (nonsense mutations). Inhibiting NMD may help rescue partial levels of protein expression. However, it is unclear whether long-term, global NMD attenuation is safe. We hypothesize that a degree of NMD inhibition can be safely tolerated after completion of prenatal development. To test this hypothesis, we generated a novel transgenic mouse that expresses an inducible, dominant-negative form of human UPF1 (dnUPF1) to inhibit NMD in mouse tissues by different degrees, allowing us to examine the effects of global NMD inhibition in vivo. A thorough characterization of these mice indicated that expressing dnUPF1 at levels that promote relatively moderate to strong NMD inhibition in most tissues for a 1-month period produced modest immunological and bone alterations. In contrast, 1 month of dnUPF1 expression to promote more modest NMD inhibition in most tissues did not produce any discernable defects, indicating that moderate global NMD attenuation is generally well tolerated in non-neurological somatic tissues. Importantly, a modest level of NMD inhibition that produced no overt abnormalities was able to significantly enhance in vivo PTC suppression. These results suggest that safe levels of NMD attenuation are likely achievable, and this can help rescue protein deficiencies resulting from PTCs.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Echols J; Siddiqui A; Dai Y; Havasi V; Sun R; Kaczmarczyk A; Keeling KM
  • Volume

  • 13
  • Issue

  • 8