The membrane trafficking events that regulate unicellular tube formation and maintenance are not well understood. Here, using an RNAi screen, we identified the small GTPase ARF1 homolog ARF-1.2 as a regulator of excretory tube formation in Caenorhabditis elegans. RNAi-mediated knockdown and knockout of the arf-1.2 gene resulted in the formation of large intracellular vacuoles at the growth sites (varicosities) of the excretory canals. arf-1.2 mutant animals were sensitive to hyperosmotic conditions. arf-1.2 RNAi affected the localization of the anion transporter SULP-8, which is expressed in the basal plasma membrane of the excretory canals, but did not affect the expression of SULP-4, which is expressed in the apical membrane. The phenotype of arf-1.2 mutants was suppressed by mutation of the small Rho GTPase CDC-42, a regulator of apical/basal traffic balance. These results suggest that ARF-1.2 plays an essential role in basal membrane traffic to regulate the formation of the unicellular excretory tube.
Keywords: ARF-1.2; CDC-42; Caenorhabditis elegans; Small GTPase; Unicellular tube formation.