The AP-1 complex is essential for membrane protein traffic via its role in the pinching-off and sorting of secretory vesicles from the trans-Golgi and/or endosomes. While its essentiality is undisputed in metazoa, its role in simpler eukaryotes seems less clear. Here we dissect the role of AP-1 in the filamentous fungus and show that it is absolutely essential for growth due to its role in clathrin-dependent maintenance of polar traffic of specific membrane cargoes towards the apex of growing hyphae. We provide evidence that AP-1 is involved in both anterograde sorting of RabE-labeled secretory vesicles and RabA/B-dependent endosome recycling. Additionally, AP-1 is shown to be critical for microtubule and septin organization, further rationalizing its essentiality in cells that face the challenge of cytoskeleton-dependent polarized cargo traffic. This work also opens a novel issue on how non-polar cargoes, such as transporters, are sorted to the eukaryotic plasma membrane.
The role of membrane lipids in modulating eukaryotic transporter assembly and function remains unclear. We investigated the effect of membrane lipids in the structure and transport activity of the purine transporter UapA from Aspergillus nidulans. We found that UapA exists mainly as a dimer and that two lipid molecules bind per UapA dimer. We identified three phospholipid classes that co-purified with UapA: phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), and phosphatidylinositol (PI). UapA delipidation caused dissociation of the dimer into monomers. Subsequent addition of PI or PE rescued the UapA dimer and allowed recovery of bound lipids, suggesting a central role of these lipids in stabilizing the dimer. Molecular dynamics simulations predicted a lipid binding site near the UapA dimer interface. Mutational analyses established that lipid binding at this site is essential for formation of functional UapA dimers. We propose that structural lipids have a central role in the formation of functional, dimeric UapA.