Genetic studies on the physiological role of CORVET inAspergillus nidulans

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CORVET and HOPS are protein complexes mediating the maturation of early endosomes (EEs) into late endosomes (LEs)/vacuoles. These heterohexamers share four ‘core’ components, Vps11, Vps16, Vps18 and Vps33, and differ in two specific subunits, CORVET Vps8 and Vps3 and HOPS Vps39 and Vps41. Whereas ablating HOPS-specific components has minor growth effects, ablating any CORVET constituent severely debilitates Aspergillus nidulans growth, buttressing previous work indicating that maturation of EEs into LEs is physiologically crucial. A genetic screen revealed that impairing the slt cation homeostasis pathway rescues the growth defect resulting from inactivation of the ‘core’ protein Vps33. Subsequent genetic analyses showed that the defect resulting from lack of any one of the five other CORVET components could similarly be rescued by sltAΔ eliminating the slt regulator SltA. Whereas double deletants lacking functionally non-equivalent components of the CORVET and HOPS complexes are rescued by sltAΔ, those lacking functionally equivalent components are not, suggesting that intermediate ‘hybrid’ complexes previously detected in yeast are physiologically relevant. vps3Δ, vps8Δ, vps39Δ and vps41Δ result in small vacuoles. This phenotype is remediable by sltAΔ in the case of CORVET-specific, but not in the case of HOPS-specific deletants, indicating that the slt− effect on vacuolar size necessitates HOPS.

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