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Sur2 is a metazoan Mediator subunit that interacts with the adenovirus E1A protein and functions in a mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway required for vulva development in Caenorhabditis elegans. We generated sur2 −/− embryonic stem cells to analyze its function as a mammalian Mediator component. Our results show that Sur2 forms a subcomplex of the Mediator with two other subunits, TRAP/Med100 and 95. Knock-out of Sur2 prevents activation by E1A-CR3 and the mitogen-activated protein kinase–regulated ETS transcription factor Elk-1, but not by multiple other transcription factors. These results imply that specific activation domains stimulate transcription by binding to distinct Mediator subunits. Activation by E1A and Elk-1 requires recruitment of Mediator to a promoter by binding to its Sur2 subunit.
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