The small GTPase Arl8b localizes primarily to lysosomes and is involved in lysosomal motility and fusion. Here, we show that Arl8b is required for lysosomal degradation of maternal proteins in the visceral yolk sac endoderm (VYSE), an apical cell layer of the visceral yolk sac, of mouse embryos. The VYSE actively takes up maternal materials from uterine fluid and degrades them in lysosomes to provide breakdown products to the embryo. Arl8b gene-trap mice (Arl8b-/-) displayed decreased early embryo body size. The Arl8b-/- VYSE exhibited defective endocytic trafficking to the lysosome and accumulation of maternal proteins such as albumin and immunoglobulin G in late endocytic organelles. Furthermore, Transthyretin-Cre;Arl8bflox/flox mice in which Arl8b was ablated specifically in the VYSE also showed decreased embryo body size, defects in trafficking to the lysosome and reduction of the free amino acid level in the embryos. Taken together, these results suggest that Arl8b mediates lysosomal degradation of maternal proteins in the VYSE, thereby contributing to mouse embryonic development.
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