The eukaryotic plasma membrane is compartmentalized into domains enriched in specific lipids and proteins. However, our understanding of the molecular bases and biological roles of this partitioning remains incomplete. The best-studied domain in yeast is the membrane compartment containing the arginine permease Can1 (MCC) and later found to cluster additional transporters. MCCs correspond to static, furrow-like invaginations of the plasma membrane and associate with subcortical structures named "eisosomes" that include upstream regulators of the target of rapamycin complex 2 (TORC2) in the sensing of sphingolipids and membrane stress. However, how and why Can1 and other nutrient transporters preferentially segregate in MCCs remains unknown. In this study we report that the clustering of Can1 in MCCs is dictated by its conformation, requires proper sphingolipid biosynthesis, and controls its ubiquitin-dependent endocytosis. In the substrate-free outward-open conformation, Can1 accumulates in MCCs in a manner dependent on sustained biogenesis of complex sphingolipids. An arginine transport-elicited shift to an inward-facing conformation promotes its cell-surface dissipation and makes it accessible to the ubiquitylation machinery triggering its endocytosis. We further show that under starvation conditions MCCs increase in number and size, this being dependent on the BAR domain-containing Lsp1 eisosome component. This expansion of MCCs provides protection for nutrient transporters from bulk endocytosis occurring in parallel with autophagy upon TORC1 inhibition. Our study reveals nutrient-regulated protection from endocytosis as an important role for protein partitioning into membrane domains.
Keywords: endocytosis; membrane domain; transporter; ubiquitin; yeast.