Elongin A increases the rate of RNA polymerase II (pol II) transcript elongation by suppressing transient pausing by the enzyme. Elongin A also acts as a component of a cullin-RING ligase that can target stalled pol II for ubiquitylation and proteasome-dependent degradation. It is not known whether these activities of Elongin A are functionally interdependent in vivo. Here, we demonstrate that Elongin A-deficient (Elongin A(-/-)) embryos exhibit abnormalities in the formation of both cranial and spinal nerves and that Elongin A(-/-) embryonic stem cells (ESCs) show a markedly decreased capacity to differentiate into neurons. Moreover, we identify Elongin A mutations that selectively inactivate one or the other of the aforementioned activities and show that mutants that retain the elongation stimulatory, but not pol II ubiquitylation, activity of Elongin A rescue neuronal differentiation and support retinoic acid-induced upregulation of a subset of neurogenesis-related genes in Elongin A(-/-) ESCs.
Copyright © 2012 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.