Although the solute carrier 35B1 (SLC35B1) is evolutionarily conserved, its functions in metazoans remain unknown. To elucidate its function, we examined developmental roles of an SLC35B1 family gene (HUT-1: homolog of UDP-Gal transporter) in Caenorhabditis elegans. We isolated a deletion mutant of the gene and characterized phenotypes of the mutant and hut-1 RNAitreated worms. GFP-HUT-1 reporter analysis was performed to examine gene expression patterns. We also tested whether several nucleotide sugar transporters can compensate for hut-1 deficiency. The hut-1 deletion mutant and RNAi worms showed larval growth defect and lethality with disrupted intestinal morphology. Inactivation of hut-1 induced chronic endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, and hut-1 showed genetic interactions with the atf-6, pek-1, and ire-1 genes involved in unfolded protein response signaling. ER ultrastructure and ER marker distribution in hut-1-deficient animals showed that HUT-1 is required for maintenance of ER structure. Reporter analysis revealed that HUT-1 is an ER protein ubiquitously expressed in tissues, including the intestine. Lethality and the ER stress phenotype of the mutant were rescued with the human hut-1 ortholog UGTrel1. These results indicate important roles for hut-1 in development and maintenance of ER homeostasis in C. elegans.
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