CUL4B, encoding a scaffold protein for the assembly of Cullin4B-Ring ubiquitin ligase (CRL4B) complexes, is frequently mutated in X-linked mental retardation (XLMR) patients. Here, we show that CUL4B, but not its paralog, CUL4A, targets WDR5, a core subunit of histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4) methyltransferase complexes, for ubiquitylation and degradation in the nucleus. Knocking down CUL4B increases WDR5 and trimethylated H3K4 (H3K4me3) on the neuronal gene promoters and induces their expression. Furthermore, CUL4B depletion suppresses neurite outgrowth of PC12 neuroendocrine cells, which can be rescued by codepletion of WDR5. XLMR-linked mutations destabilize CUL4B and impair its ability to support neurite outgrowth of PC12 cells. Our results identify WDR5 as a critical substrate of CUL4B in regulating neuronal gene expression and suggest epigenetic change as a common pathogenic mechanism for CUL4B-associated XLMR.
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