Yeast studies identified two heterohexameric tethering complexes, which consist of
4 shared (Vps11, Vps16, Vps18 and Vps33) and 2 specific subunits: Vps3 and Vps8 (CORVET)
versus Vps39 and Vps41 (HOPS). CORVET is an early and HOPS is a late endosomal tether.
The function of HOPS is well known in animal cells, while CORVET is poorly characterized.
Here we show that Drosophila Vps8 is highly expressed in hemocytes and nephrocytes,
and localizes to early endosomes despite the lack of a clear Vps3 homolog. We find
that Vps8 forms a complex and acts together with Vps16A, Dor/Vps18 and Car/Vps33A,
and loss of any of these proteins leads to fragmentation of endosomes. Surprisingly,
Vps11 deletion causes enlargement of endosomes, similar to loss of the HOPS-specific
subunits Vps39 and Lt/Nps41. We thus identify a 4 subunit-containing miniCORVET complex
as an unconventional early endosomal tether in Drosophila.