Transcription-translation feedback loops that comprise eukaryotic circadian clocks rely upon temporal delays that separate the phase of active transcription of clock genes, such as Drosophila period (per) and timeless (tim), from negative feedback by the two proteins. However, our understanding of the mechanisms involved is incomplete. Through an RNA interference screen, we found that pre-mRNA processing 4 (PRP4) kinase, a component of the U4/U5.U6 triple small nuclear ribonucleoprotein (tri-snRNP) spliceosome, and other tri-snRNP components regulate cycling of the molecular clock as well as rest:activity rhythms. Unbiased RNA-Sequencing uncovered an alternatively spliced intron in tim whose increased retention upon prp4 downregulation leads to decreased TIM levels. We demonstrate that the splicing of tim is rhythmic with a phase that parallels delayed accumulation of the protein in a 24 hr cycle. We propose that alternative splicing constitutes an important clock mechanism for delaying the daily accumulation of clock proteins, and thereby negative feedback by them.
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Keywords: D. melanogaster; Drosophila; circadian rhythms; feedback loop; genetics; genomics; molecular clock; splicing; timeless.
© 2018, Shakhmantsir et al.