Circadian processes in the RNA life cycle


  • Torres Manon
  • Becquet Denis
  • Franc Jean-Louis
  • François-Bellan Anne-Marie


The circadian clock drives daily rhythms of multiple physiological processes, allowing organisms to anticipate and adjust to periodic changes in environmental conditions. These physiological rhythms are associated with robust oscillations in the expression of at least 30% of expressed genes. While the ability for the endogenous timekeeping system to generate a 24-hr cycle is a cell-autonomous mechanism based on negative autoregulatory feedback loops of transcription and translation involving core-clock genes and their protein products, it is now increasingly evident that additional mechanisms also govern the circadian oscillations of clock-controlled genes. Such mechanisms can take place post-transcriptionally during the course of the RNA life cycle. It has been shown that many steps during RNA processing are regulated in a circadian manner, thus contributing to circadian gene expression. These steps include mRNA capping, alternative splicing, changes in splicing efficiency, and changes in RNA stability controlled by the tail length of polyadenylation or the use of alternative polyadenylation sites. RNA transport can also follow a circadian pattern, with a circadian nuclear retention driven by rhythmic expression within the nucleus of particular bodies (the paraspeckles) and circadian export to the cytoplasm driven by rhythmic proteins acting like cargo. Finally, RNA degradation may also follow a circadian pattern through the rhythmic involvement of miRNAs. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge of the post-transcriptional circadian mechanisms known to play a prominent role in shaping circadian gene expression in mammals. This article is categorized under: RNA Processing > Splicing Regulation/Alternative Splicing RNA Processing > RNA Editing and Modification RNA Export and Localization > Nuclear Export/Import.

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