Endocytic sorting and recycling require membrane phosphatidylserine asymmetry maintained by TAT-1/CHAT-1.
Endocytic sorting is achieved through the formation of morphologically and functionally distinct sub-domains within early endosomes. Cargoes destined for recycling are sorted to and transported through newly-formed tubular membranes, but the processes that regulate membrane tubulation are poorly understood. Here, we identified a novel Caenorhabditis elegans Cdc50 family protein, CHAT-1, which acts as the chaperone of the TAT-1 P4-ATPase to regulate membrane phosphatidylserine (PS) asymmetry and endocytic transport. In chat-1 and tat-1 mutants, the endocytic sorting process is disrupted, leading to defects in both cargo recycling and degradation. TAT-1 and CHAT-1 colocalize to the tubular domain of the early endosome, the tubular endocytic recycling compartment (ERC), and the recycling endosome where PS is enriched on the cytosolic surface. Loss of tat-1 and chat-1 function disrupts membrane PS asymmetry and abrogates the tubular membrane structure. Our data suggest that CHAT-1 and TAT-1 maintain membrane phosphatidylserine asymmetry, thus promoting membrane tubulation and regulating endocytic sorting and recycling.