Endomembrane organelle maturation requires cargo delivery via fusion with membrane transport intermediates and recycling of fusion factors to their sites of origin. Melanosomes and other lysosome-related organelles obtain cargoes from early endosomes, but the fusion machinery involved and its recycling pathway are unknown. Here, we show that the v-SNARE VAMP7 mediates fusion of melanosomes with tubular transport carriers that also carry the cargo protein TYRP1 and that require BLOC-1 for their formation. Using live-cell imaging, we identify a pathway for VAMP7 recycling from melanosomes that employs distinct tubular carriers. The recycling carriers also harbor the VAMP7-binding scaffold protein VARP and the tissue-restricted Rab GTPase RAB38. Recycling carrier formation is dependent on the RAB38 exchange factor BLOC-3. Our data suggest that VAMP7 mediates fusion of BLOC-1-dependent transport carriers with melanosomes, illuminate SNARE recycling from melanosomes as a critical BLOC-3-dependent step, and likely explain the distinct hypopigmentation phenotypes associated with BLOC-1 and BLOC-3 deficiency in Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome variants.
© 2016 Dennis et al.