Very long-chain fatty acids (VLCFAs), fatty acids with chain-length greater than 20 carbons, possess a wide range of biological functions. However, their roles at the molecular level remain largely unknown. In the present study, we screened for multicopy suppressors that rescued temperature-sensitive growth of VLCFA-limited yeast cells, and we identified the VPS21 gene, encoding a Rab GTPase, as such a suppressor. When the vps21Delta mutation was introduced into a deletion mutant of the SUR4 gene, which encodes a VLCFA elongase, a synthetic growth defect was observed. Endosome-mediated vesicular trafficking pathways, including endocytosis and the carboxypeptidase Y (CPY) pathway, were severely impaired in sur4Delta vps21Delta double mutants, while the AP-3 pathway that bypasses the endosome was unaffected. In addition, the sur4Delta mutant also exhibited a synthetic growth defect when combined with the deletion of VPS3, which encodes a subunit of the class C core vacuole/endosome tethering (CORVET) complex that tethers transport vesicles to the late endosome/multivesicular body (MVB). These results suggest that, of all the intracellular trafficking pathways, requirement of VLCFAs is especially high in the endosomal pathways.
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