The circadian oscillator is based on transcription-translation feedback loops that generate 24 h oscillations in gene expression. Although circadian regulation of mRNA expression at the transcriptional level is one of the most important steps for the generation of circadian rhythms within the cell, multiple lines of evidence point to a disconnect between transcript oscillation and protein oscillation. This can be explained by regulatory RNA-binding proteins acting on the nascent transcripts to modulate their processing, export, translation and degradation rates. In this chapter we will review what is known about the different steps involved in circadian gene expression from transcription initiation to mRNA stability and translation efficiency. The role of ribonucleoprotein particles in the generation of rhythmic gene expression is only starting to be elucidated, but it is likely that they cooperate with the basal transcriptional machinery to help to maintain the precision of the clock under diverse cellular and environmental conditions.
Keywords: Chromatin modifications; Exon array; IRES; Nascent-seq; PolyA tail length; RNA-seq; RNAPII; Ribosome; eRNA.