The mammalian homotypic fusion and vacuole protein sorting (HOPS) complex is comprised of six subunits: VPS11, VPS16, VPS18, VPS39, VPS41 and the Sec1/Munc18 (SM) family member VPS33A. Human HOPS has been predicted to be a tethering complex required for fusion of intracellular compartments with lysosomes, but it remains unclear whether all HOPS subunits are required. We showed that the whole HOPS complex is required for fusion of endosomes with lysosomes by monitoring the delivery of endocytosed fluorescent dextran to lysosomes in cells depleted of individual HOPS proteins. We used the crystal structure of the VPS16/VPS33A complex to design VPS16 and VPS33A mutants that no longer bind each other and showed that, unlike the wild-type proteins, these mutants no longer rescue lysosome fusion with endosomes or autophagosomes in cells depleted of the endogenous proteins. There was no effect of depleting either VIPAR or VPS33B, paralogs of VPS16 and VPS33A, on fusion of lysosomes with either endosomes or autophagosomes and immunoprecipitation showed that they form a complex distinct from HOPS. Our data demonstrate the necessity of recruiting the SM protein VPS33A to HOPS via its interaction with VPS16 and that HOPS proteins, but not VIPAR or VPS33B, are essential for fusion of endosomes or autophagosomes with lysosomes.
Keywords: CORVET; HOPS; SM protein; VPS16; VPS33A; autophagy; endocytosis; lysosomes; tethering factor.
© 2015 The Authors. Traffic published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.