Escape from nonsense mediated decay (NMD-) can produce activated or inactivated gene products, and bias in rates of escape can identify functionally important genes in germline disease. We hypothesized that the same would be true of cancer genes, and tested for NMD- bias within The Cancer Genome Atlas pan-cancer somatic mutation dataset. We identify 29 genes that show significantly elevated or suppressed rates of NMD-. This novel approach to cancer gene discovery reveals genes not previously cataloged as potentially tumorigenic, and identifies many potential driver mutations in known cancer genes for functional characterization.
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