A methyl transferase links the circadian clock to the regulation of alternative splicing

Nature. 2010 Nov 4;468(7320):112-6. doi: 10.1038/nature09470. Epub 2010 Oct 20.


Circadian rhythms allow organisms to time biological processes to the most appropriate phases of the day-night cycle. Post-transcriptional regulation is emerging as an important component of circadian networks, but the molecular mechanisms linking the circadian clock to the control of RNA processing are largely unknown. Here we show that PROTEIN ARGININE METHYL TRANSFERASE 5 (PRMT5), which transfers methyl groups to arginine residues present in histones and Sm spliceosomal proteins, links the circadian clock to the control of alternative splicing in plants. Mutations in PRMT5 impair several circadian rhythms in Arabidopsis thaliana and this phenotype is caused, at least in part, by a strong alteration in alternative splicing of the core-clock gene PSEUDO RESPONSE REGULATOR 9 (PRR9). Furthermore, genome-wide studies show that PRMT5 contributes to the regulation of many pre-messenger-RNA splicing events, probably by modulating 5'-splice-site recognition. PRMT5 expression shows daily and circadian oscillations, and this contributes to the mediation of the circadian regulation of expression and alternative splicing of a subset of genes. Circadian rhythms in locomotor activity are also disrupted in dart5-1, a mutant affected in the Drosophila melanogaster PRMT5 homologue, and this is associated with alterations in splicing of the core-clock gene period and several clock-associated genes. Our results demonstrate a key role for PRMT5 in the regulation of alternative splicing and indicate that the interplay between the circadian clock and the regulation of alternative splicing by PRMT5 constitutes a common mechanism that helps organisms to synchronize physiological processes with daily changes in environmental conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis / enzymology
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Arabidopsis / radiation effects
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Base Sequence
  • Circadian Clocks / genetics
  • Circadian Clocks / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / genetics
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Darkness
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / enzymology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / radiation effects
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Light
  • Methylation
  • Mutation
  • Period Circadian Proteins / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Protein Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Protein Methyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Protein-Arginine N-Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Protein-Arginine N-Methyltransferases / metabolism*
  • RNA Precursors / genetics
  • RNA Precursors / metabolism
  • RNA Splice Sites / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Spliceosomes / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / genetics


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • PER protein, Drosophila
  • PRR9 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Period Circadian Proteins
  • RNA Precursors
  • RNA Splice Sites
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transcription Factors
  • Protein Methyltransferases
  • PRMT5 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Protein-Arginine N-Methyltransferases
  • csul protein, Drosophila

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE18808