Background: The intestinal cells of Caenorhabditis elegans are filled with heterogeneous granular organelles that are associated with specific organ functions. The best studied of these organelles are lipid droplets and acidified gut granules associated with GLO-1, a homolog of the small GTPase Rab38. In this study, we characterized a subset of the intestinal granules in which HAF-4 and HAF-9 localize on the membrane. HAF-4 and HAF-9 are ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter proteins that are homologous to the mammalian lysosomal peptide transporter TAPL (transporter associated with antigen processing-like, ABCB9). Results: Using transgenic worms expressing fluorescent protein-tagged marker proteins, we demonstrated that the HAF-4- and HAF-9-localizing organelles are not lipid droplets and do not participate in yolk protein transport. They were also ruled out as GLO-1-positive acidified gut granules. Furthermore, we clarified that the late endosomal protein RAB-7 localizes to the HAF-4- and HAF-9-localizing organelles and is required for their biogenesis. Conclusions: Our results indicate that the HAF-4- and HAF-9-localizing organelles are distinct intestinal organelles associated with the endocytic pathway.
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