The effect of intracellular vesicle trafficking on stem-cell behavior is largely unexplored. We screened the Drosophila sorting nexins (SNXs) and discovered that one, SH3PX1, profoundly affects gut homeostasis and lifespan. SH3PX1 restrains intestinal stem cell (ISC) division through an endocytosis-autophagy network that includes Dynamin, Rab5, Rab7, Atg1, 5, 6, 7, 8a, 9, 12, 16, and Syx17. Blockages in this network stabilize ligand-activated EGFRs, recycling them via Rab11-dependent endosomes to the plasma membrane. This hyperactivated ERK, calcium signaling, and ER stress, autonomously stimulating ISC proliferation. The excess divisions induced epithelial stress, Yki activity, and Upd3 and Rhomboid production in enterocytes, catalyzing feedforward ISC hyperplasia. Similarly, blocking autophagy increased ERK activity in human cells. Many endocytosis-autophagy genes are mutated in cancers, most notably those enriched in microsatellite instable-high and KRAS-wild-type colorectal cancers. Disruptions in endocytosis and autophagy may provide an alternative route to RAS-ERK activation, resulting in EGFR-dependent cancers.
Keywords: Drosophila sorting nexins; EGFR-Ras-MAPK; Keren; Rab GTPases; SH3PX1; autophagy-related proteins; calcium signaling; colorectal cancer; endocytosis-autophagy network; intestinal stem-cell proliferation.
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