Circadian control of mRNA polyadenylation dynamics regulates rhythmic protein expression

Shihoko Kojima, Elaine L. Sher-Chen, Carla B. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


Poly(A) tails are 3′ modifications of eukaryotic mRNAs that are important in the control of translation and mRNA stability. We identified hundreds of mouse liver mRNAs that exhibit robust circadian rhythms in the length of their poly(A) tails. Approximately 80% of these are primarily the result of nuclear adenylation coupled with rhythmic transcription. However, unique decay kinetics distinguish these mRNAs from other mRNAs that are transcribed rhythmically but do not exhibit poly(A) tail rhythms. The remaining 20% are uncoupled from transcription and exhibit poly(A) tail rhythms even though the steady-state mRNA levels are not rhythmic. These are under the control of rhythmic cytoplasmic polyadenylation, regulated at least in some cases by cytoplasmic polyadenylation element-binding proteins (CPEBs). Importantly, we found that the rhythmicity in poly(A) tail length is closely correlated with rhythmic protein expression, with a several-hour delay between the time of longest tail and the time of highest protein level. Our study demonstrates that the circadian clock regulates the dynamic polyadenylation status of mRNAs, which can result in rhythmic protein expression independent of the steady-state levels of the message.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2724-2736
Number of pages13
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number24
StatePublished - 2012


  • Circadian
  • Deadenylation
  • Polyadenylation
  • Post-transcriptional mechanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


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