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Dev Biol. 2013 May 15;377(2):319-32. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2013.03.012. Epub 2013 Mar 17.

WAVE/SCAR promotes endocytosis and early endosome morphology in polarized C. elegans epithelia.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UMDNJ--Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 675 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.


Cells can use the force of actin polymerization to drive intracellular transport, but the role of actin in endocytosis is not clear. Studies in single-celled yeast demonstrate the essential role of the branched actin nucleator, Arp2/3, and its activating nucleation promoting factors (NPFs) in the process of invagination from the cell surface through endocytosis. However, some mammalian studies have disputed the need for F-actin and Arp2/3 in Clathrin-Mediated Endocytosis (CME) in multicellular organisms. We investigate the role of Arp2/3 during endocytosis in Caenorhabditis elegans, a multicellular organism with polarized epithelia. Arp2/3 and its NPF, WAVE/SCAR, are essential for C. elegans embryonic morphogenesis. We show that WAVE/SCAR and Arp2/3 regulate endocytosis and early endosome morphology in diverse tissues of C. elegans. Depletion of WAVE/SCAR or Arp2/3, but not of the NPF Wasp, severely disrupts the distribution of molecules proposed to be internalized via CME, and alters the subcellular enrichment of the early endosome regulator RAB-5. Loss of WAVE/SCAR or of the GEFs that regulate RAB-5 results in similar defects in endocytosis in the intestine and coelomocyte cells. This study in a multicellular organism supports an essential role for branched actin regulators in endocytosis, and identifies WAVE/SCAR as a key NPF that promotes Arp2/3 endocytic function in C. elegans.

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