The small GTPase Rab22A is an important regulator of the formation of tubular endosomes, which are one of the types of recycling endosome compartments of the clathrin-independent endocytosis pathway. In order to regulate tubular endosome formation, Rab22A must be activated by a specific guanine-nucleotide-exchange factor (GEF); however, all of the GEFs that have been reported to exhibit Rab22A-GEF activity in vitro also activate Rab5A, an essential regulator of the clathrin-mediated endocytosis pathway, and no Rab22A-specific GEF has ever been identified. Here, we identified Vps9d1, a previously uncharacterized vacuolar protein sorting 9 (VPS9) domain-containing protein, as a novel Rab22A-GEF. The formation of tubular endosome structures was found to be severely impaired in Vps9d1-depleted HeLa cells, but Rab5A localization was unaffected. Expression of a constitutively active Rab22A mutant in Vps9d1-depleted HeLa cells restored tubular endosomes, but expression of a GEF-activity-deficient Vps9d1 mutant did not. Moreover, Vps9d1 depletion altered the distribution of clathrin-independent endocytosed cargos and impaired their recycling. Our findings indicate that Vps9d1 promotes tubular endosome formation by specifically activating Rab22A.

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