Circadian clocks temporally organize behavior and physiology across the 24-h day. Great progress has been made in understanding the molecular basis of timekeeping, with a focus on transcriptional feedback networks that are post-translationally modulated. Yet emerging evidence indicates an important role for post-transcriptional regulation, from splicing, polyadenylation and mRNA stability to translation and non-coding functions exemplified by microRNAs. This level of regulation affects virtually all aspects of circadian systems, from the core timing mechanism and input pathways that synchronize clocks to the environment and output pathways that control overt rhythmicity. We hypothesize that post-transcriptional control confers on circadian clocks enhanced robustness as well as the ability to adapt to different environments. As much of what is known derives from nonneural cells or tissues, future work will be required to investigate the role of post-transcriptional regulation in neural clocks.
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