The exocyst complex is required for cell polarity regulation and the targeting and tethering of transport vesicles to the plasma membrane. The complex is structurally well conserved, however, the functions of individual subunits and their regulation is poorly understood. Here we characterize the mutant phenotypes for the exocyst complex genes exoc-7 (exo70) and exoc-8 (exo84) in Caenorhabditis elegans. The mutants display pleiotropic behavior defects that resemble those observed in cilia mutants (slow growth, uncoordinated movement, defects in chemo-, mechano- and thermosensation). However, no obvious morphological defects in cilia were observed. A targeted RNAi screen for small GTPases identified eleven genes with enhanced phenotypes when combined with exoc-7, exoc-8 single and exoc-7; exoc-8 double mutants. The screen verified previously identified functional links between the exocyst complex and small GTPases and, in addition, identified several novel potential regulators of exocyst function. The exoc-8 and exoc-7; exoc-8 mutations caused a significant size increase in the rab-10 RNAi-induced endocytic vacuoles in the intestinal epithelial cells. In addition, exoc-8 and exoc-7; exoc-8 mutations resulted in up-regulation of RAB-10 expression and affected the accumulation of endocytic marker proteins in these cells in response to rab-10 RNAi. The findings identify novel, potential regulators for exocyst function and show that exoc-7 and exoc-8 are functionally linked to rab-10 in endosomal trafficking in intestinal epithelial cells in C. elegans.
Jiu, Y., Jin, C., Liu, Y., Holmberg, C. I., & Jäntti, J. (2012). Exocyst subunits Exo70 and Exo84 cooperate with small GTPases to regulate behavior and endocytic trafficking in C. elegans. PLoS ONE, 7(2), [e32077]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0032077