Genetic characterization of smg-8 mutants reveals no role in C. elegans nonsense mediated decay

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The nonsense mediated decay (NMD) pathway degrades mRNAs bearing premature translation termination codons. In mammals, SMG-8 has been implicated in the NMD pathway, in part by its association with SMG-1 kinase. Here we use four independent assays to show that C. elegans smg-8 is not required to degrade nonsense-containing mRNAs. We examine the genetic requirement for smg-8 to destabilize the endogenous, natural NMD targets produced by alternative splicing of rpl-7a and rpl-12. We test smg-8 for degradation of the endogenous, NMD target generated by unc-54(r293), which lacks a normal polyadenylation site. We probe the effect of smg-8 on the exogenous NMD target produced by myo-3::GFP, which carries a long 3′ untranslated region that destabilizes mRNAs. None of these known NMD targets is influenced by smg-8 mutations. In addition, smg-8 animals lack classical Smg mutant phenotypes such as a reduced brood size or abnormal vulva. We conclude that smg-8 is unlikely to encode a component critical for NMD.