Constitutive transport of cellular materials is essential for cell survival. Although multiple small GTPase Rab proteins are required for the process, few regulators of Rabs are known. Here we report that EAT-17, a novel GTPase-activating protein (GAP), regulates RAB-6.2 function in grinder formation in Caenorhabditis elegans. We identified EAT-17 as a novel RabGAP that interacts with RAB-6.2, a protein that presumably regulates vesicle trafficking between Golgi, the endoplasmic reticulum, and plasma membrane to form a functional grinder. EAT-17 has a canonical GAP domain that is critical for its function. RNA interference against 25 confirmed and/or predicted RABs in C. elegans shows that RNAi against rab-6.2 produces a phenotype identical to eat-17. A directed yeast twohybrid screen using EAT-17 as bait and each of the 25 RAB proteins as prey identifies RAB-6.2 as the interacting partner of EAT-17, confirming that RAB-6.2 is a specific substrate of EAT-17. Additionally, deletion mutants of rab-6.2 show grinder defects identical to those of eat-17 loss-of-function mutants, and both RAB-6.2 and EAT-17 are expressed in the terminal bulb of the pharynx where the grinder is located. Collectively, these results suggest that EAT-17 is a specific GTPase-activating protein for RAB-6.2. Based on the conserved function of Rab6 in vesicular transport, we propose that EAT-17 regulates the turnover rate of RAB-6.2 activity in cargo trafficking for grinder formation.
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