The liver plays a pivotal role in metabolism and xenobiotic detoxification, processes that must be particularly efficient when animals are active and feed. A major question is how the liver adapts to these diurnal changes in physiology. Here, we show that, in mice, liver mass, hepatocyte size, and protein levels follow a daily rhythm, whose amplitude depends on both feeding-fasting and light-dark cycles. Correlative evidence suggests that the daily oscillation in global protein accumulation depends on a similar fluctuation in ribosome number. Whereas rRNA genes are transcribed at similar rates throughout the day, some newly synthesized rRNAs are polyadenylated and degraded in the nucleus in a robustly diurnal fashion with a phase opposite to that of ribosomal protein synthesis. Based on studies with cultured fibroblasts, we propose that rRNAs not packaged into complete ribosomal subunits are polyadenylated by the poly(A) polymerase PAPD5 and degraded by the nuclear exosome.
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