Miyata K, Yasukawa T, Fukuda M, Takeuchi T, Yamazaki K, Sakumi K, Tamamori-Adachi M, Ohnishi Y, Ohtsuki Y, Nakabeppu Y, Kitajima S, Onishi S, Aso T.
Elongin A is a transcription elongation factor that increases the overall rate of mRNA chain elongation by RNA polymerase II. To gain more insight into the physiological functions of Elongin A, we generated Elongin A-deficient mice. Elongin A homozygous mutant (Elongin A(-/-)) embryos demonstrated a severely retarded development and died at between days 10.5 and 12.5 of gestation, most likely due to extensive apoptosis. Moreover, mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) derived from Elongin A(-/-) embryos exhibited not only increased apoptosis but also senescence-like growth defects accompanied by the activation of p38 MAPK and p53. Knockdown of Elongin A in MEFs by RNA interference also dramatically induced the senescent phenotype. A study using inhibitors of p38 MAPK and p53 and the generation of Elongin A-deficient mice with p53-null background suggests that both the p38 MAPK and p53 pathways are responsible for the induction of senescence-like phenotypes, whereas additional signaling pathways appear to be involved in the mediation of apoptosis in Elongin A(-/-) cells. Taken together, our results suggest that Elongin A is required for the transcription of genes essential for early embryonic development and downregulation of its activity is tightly associated with cellular senescence.