MARCH ubiquitin ligases alter the itinerary of clathrin-independent cargo from recycling to degradation.
Following endocytosis, internalized plasma membrane proteins can be recycled back to the cell surface or trafficked to late endosomes/lysosomes for degradation. Here we report on the trafficking of multiple proteins that enter cells by clathrin-independent endocytosis (CIE) and determine that a set of proteins (CD44, CD98, and CD147) found primarily in recycling tubules largely failed to reach late endosomes in HeLa cells, whereas other CIE cargo proteins, including major histocompatibility complex class I protein (MHCI), trafficked to both early endosome antigen 1 (EEA1) and late endosomal compartments in addition to recycling tubules. Expression of the membrane-associated RING-CH 8 (MARCH8) E3 ubiquitin ligase completely shifted the trafficking of CD44 and CD98 proteins away from recycling tubules to EEA1 compartments and late endosomes, resulting in reduced surface levels. Cargo affected by MARCH expression, including CD44, CD98, and MHCI, still entered cells by CIE, suggesting that the routing of ubiquitinated cargo occurs after endocytosis. MARCH8 expression led to direct ubiquitination of CD98 and routing of CD98 to late endosomes/lysosomes.