JOURNAL ARTICLE

An AGEF-1/Arf GTPase/AP-1 ensemble antagonizes LET-23 EGFR basolateral localization and signaling during C. elegans vulva induction

Olga Skorobogata, Juan M Escobar-Restrepo, Christian E Rocheleau
PLoS Genetics 2014, 10 (10): e1004728
25329472
LET-23 Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) signaling specifies the vulval cell fates during C. elegans larval development. LET-23 EGFR localization on the basolateral membrane of the vulval precursor cells (VPCs) is required to engage the LIN-3 EGF-like inductive signal. The LIN-2 Cask/LIN-7 Veli/LIN-10 Mint (LIN-2/7/10) complex binds LET-23 EGFR, is required for its basolateral membrane localization, and therefore, vulva induction. Besides the LIN-2/7/10 complex, the trafficking pathways that regulate LET-23 EGFR localization have not been defined. Here we identify vh4, a hypomorphic allele of agef-1, as a strong suppressor of the lin-2 mutant Vulvaless (Vul) phenotype. AGEF-1 is homologous to the mammalian BIG1 and BIG2 Arf GTPase guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs), which regulate secretory traffic between the Trans-Golgi network, endosomes and the plasma membrane via activation of Arf GTPases and recruitment of the AP-1 clathrin adaptor complex. Consistent with a role in trafficking we show that AGEF-1 is required for protein secretion and that AGEF-1 and the AP-1 complex regulate endosome size in coelomocytes. The AP-1 complex has previously been implicated in negative regulation of LET-23 EGFR, however the mechanism was not known. Our genetic data indicate that AGEF-1 is a strong negative regulator of LET-23 EGFR signaling that functions in the VPCs at the level of the receptor. In line with AGEF-1 being an Arf GEF, we identify the ARF-1.2 and ARF-3 GTPases as also negatively regulating signaling. We find that the agef-1(vh4) mutation results in increased LET-23 EGFR on the basolateral membrane in both wild-type and lin-2 mutant animals. Furthermore, unc-101(RNAi), a component of the AP-1 complex, increased LET-23 EGFR on the basolateral membrane in lin-2 and agef-1(vh4); lin-2 mutant animals. Thus, an AGEF-1/Arf GTPase/AP-1 ensemble functions opposite the LIN-2/7/10 complex to antagonize LET-23 EGFR basolateral membrane localization and signaling.

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