In all cell types, endocytosed cargo is transported along a set of endosomal compartments, which are linked maturationally from early endosomes (EEs) via late endosomes (LEs) to lysosomes. Lysosomes are critical for degradation of proteins that enter through endocytic as well as autophagic pathways. Rab7 is the master regulator of early-to-late endosome maturation, motility, and fusion with lysosomes. We previously showed that most degradative lysosomes are localized in the soma and in the first 25 µm of the dendrite and that bulk degradation of dendritic membrane proteins occurs in/near the soma. Dendritic late endosomes therefore move retrogradely in a Rab7-dependent manner for fusion with somatic lysosomes. We now used cultured E18 rat hippocampal neurons of both sexes to determine which microtubule motor is responsible for degradative flux of late endosomes. Based on multiple approaches (inhibiting dynein/dynactin itself or inhibiting dynein recruitment to endosomes by expressing the C-terminus of the Rab7 effector, RILP), we now demonstrate that net retrograde flux of late endosomes in dendrites is supported by dynein. Inhibition of dynein also delays maturation of somatic endosomes, as evidenced by excessive accumulation of Rab7. In addition, degradation of dendritic cargos is inhibited. Our results also suggest that GDP-GTP cycling of Rab7 appears necessary not only for endosomal maturation but also for fusion with lysosomes subsequent to arrival in the soma. In conclusion, Rab7-dependent dynein/dynactin recruitment to dendritic endosomes plays multifaceted roles in dendritic endosome maturation as well as retrograde transport of late endosomes to sustain normal degradative flux.
Lysosomes are critical for degradation of membrane and extracellular proteins that enter through endocytosis. Lysosomes are also the endpoint of autophagy and thus responsible for protein and organelle homeostasis. Endosomal-lysosomal dysfunction is linked to neurodegeneration and aging. We identify roles in dendrites for two proteins with links to human diseases, Rab7 and dynein. Our previous work identified a process that requires directional retrograde transport in dendrites, namely, efficient degradation of short-lived membrane proteins. Based on multiple approaches, we demonstrate that Rab7-dependent recruitment of dynein motors supports net retrograde transport to lysosomes and is needed for endosome maturation. Our data also suggest that GDP-GTP cycling of Rab7 is required for fusion with lysosomes and degradation, subsequent to arrival in the soma.