Standard Article

mRNA Stability

  1. Udo Bläsi,
  2. Alexander von Gabain

Published Online: 15 SEP 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0000533.pub2



How to Cite

Bläsi, U. and von Gabain, A. 2009. mRNA Stability. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. University of Vienna, Max F. Perutz Laboratories, Vienna, Austria

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2009

This is not the most recent version of the article. View current version (15 JUL 2014)


The steady-state level of a messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) is determined by both its rate of synthesis and degradation. The degradation of mRNA is an important tool employed by cells to control gene expression, and to adjust the level of protein synthesis in response to physiological needs. The degradation of mRNA in all organisms is mastered by a rather restricted number of endo- and exoribonucleases. Some of these enzymes are phylogenetically conserved across the three domains of life – bacteria, archaea and eukarya. This review provides a brief overview on the major factors and mechanisms involved in bacterial and eukaryal mRNA degradation.

Key concepts:

  • Enzymes and factors involved in mRNA decay in prokaryotes and eukaryotes.

  • Mechanisms of mRNA decay in pro- and eukaryotes.

  • Defective mRNAs and decay.

  • Noncoding RNAs and mRNA decay.


  • mRNA decay;
  • noncoding RNAs;
  • RNases;
  • RNA-binding proteins