Endosomal-lysosomal trafficking is accompanied by the acidification of endosomal compartments by the H+-V-ATPase to reach low lysosomal pH. Disruption of the correct pH impairs lysosomal function and the balance of protein synthesis and degradation (proteostasis). Here, we treated mammalian cells with the small dipeptide LLOMe, which is known to permeabilize lysosomal membranes, and find that LLOMe also impacts late endosomes (LEs) by neutralizing their pH without causing membrane permeabilization. We show that LLOMe leads to hyperactivation of Rab7 (herein referring to Rab7a), and disruption of tubulation and mannose-6-phosphate receptor (CI-M6PR; also known as IGF2R) recycling on pH-neutralized LEs. pH neutralization (NH4Cl) and expression of Rab7 hyperactive mutants alone can both phenocopy the alterations in tubulation and CI-M6PR trafficking. Mechanistically, pH neutralization increases the assembly of the V1G1 subunit (encoded by ATP6V1G1) of the V-ATPase on endosomal membranes, which stabilizes GTP-bound Rab7 via RILP, a known interactor of Rab7 and V1G1. We propose a novel pathway by which V-ATPase and RILP modulate LE pH and Rab7 activation in concert. This pathway might broadly contribute to pH control during physiologic endosomal maturation or starvation and during pathologic pH neutralization, which occurs via lysosomotropic compounds and in disease states.

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