Critical role of deadenylation in regulating poly(A) rhythms and circadian gene expression

Author(s)Xiangyu Yao

by Xiangyu Yao, Shihoko Kojima, Jing Chen

The mammalian circadian clock is deeply rooted in rhythmic regulation of gene expression. Rhythmic transcriptional control mediated by the circadian transcription factors is thought to be the main driver of mammalian circadian gene expression.

However, mounting evidence has demonstrated the importance of rhythmic post-transcriptional controls, and it remains unclear how the transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms collectively control rhythmic gene expression.

In mouse liver, hundreds of genes were found to exhibit rhythmicity in poly(A) tail length, and the poly(A) rhythms are strongly correlated with the protein expression rhythms. To understand the role of rhythmic poly(A) regulation in circadian gene expression, we constructed a parsimonious model that depicts rhythmic control imposed upon basic mRNA expression and poly(A) regulation processes, including transcription, deadenylation, polyadenylation, and degradation.

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The model results reveal the rhythmicity in deadenylation as the strongest contributor to the rhythmicity in poly(A) tail length and the rhythmicity in the abundance of the mRNA subpopulation with long poly(A) tails (a rough proxy for mRNA translatability).

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In line with this finding, the model further shows that the experimentally observed distinct peak phases in the expression of deadenylases, regardless of other rhythmic controls, can robustly cluster the rhythmic mRNAs by their peak phases in poly(A) tail length and abundance of the long-tailed subpopulation.

This provides a potential mechanism to synchronize the phases of target gene expression regulated by the same deadenylases. Our findings highlight the critical role of rhythmic deadenylation in regulating poly(A) rhythms and circadian gene expression.

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