Journal Article

De novo mutations of the ATP6V1A gene cause developmental encephalopathy with epilepsy

Anna Fassio, Alessandro Esposito, Mitsuhiro Kato, Hirotomo Saitsu, Davide Mei, Carla Marini, Valerio Conti, Mitsuko Nakashima, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Akgun Olmez Turker, Burcu Albuz, C Nur Semerci Gündüz, Keiko Yanagihara, Elisa Belmonte, Luca Maragliano, Keri Ramsey, Chris Balak, Ashley Siniard, Vinodh Narayanan, Chihiro Ohba, Masaaki Shiina, Kazuhiro Ogata, Naomichi Matsumoto, Fabio Benfenati and Renzo Guerrini

in Brain

Volume 141, issue 6, pages 1703-1718
Published in print June 2018 | ISSN: 0006-8950
Published online April 2018 | e-ISSN: 1460-2156 | DOI:

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  • Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics
  • Molecular and Cellular Systems


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V-type proton (H+) ATPase (v-ATPase) is a multi-subunit proton pump that regulates pH homeostasis in all eukaryotic cells; in neurons, v-ATPase plays additional and unique roles in synapse function. Through whole exome sequencing, we identified de novo heterozygous mutations (p.Pro27Arg, p.Asp100Tyr, p.Asp349Asn, p.Asp371Gly) in ATP6V1A, encoding the A subunit of v-ATPase, in four patients with developmental encephalopathy with epilepsy. Early manifestations, observed in all patients, were developmental delay and febrile seizures, evolving to encephalopathy with profound delay, hypotonic/dyskinetic quadriparesis and intractable multiple seizure types in two patients (p.Pro27Arg, p.Asp100Tyr), and to moderate delay with milder epilepsy in the other two (p.Asp349Asn, p.Asp371Gly). Modelling performed on the available prokaryotic and eukaryotic structures of v-ATPase predicted p.Pro27Arg to perturb subunit interaction, p.Asp100Tyr to cause steric hindrance and destabilize protein folding, p.Asp349Asn to affect the catalytic function and p.Asp371Gly to impair the rotation process, necessary for proton transport. We addressed the impact of p.Asp349Asn and p.Asp100Tyr mutations on ATP6V1A expression and function by analysing ATP6V1A-overexpressing HEK293T cells and patients’ lymphoblasts. The p.Asp100Tyr mutant was characterized by reduced expression due to increased degradation. Conversely, no decrease in expression and clearance was observed for p.Asp349Asn. In HEK293T cells overexpressing either pathogenic or control variants, p.Asp349Asn significantly increased LysoTracker® fluorescence with no effects on EEA1 and LAMP1 expression. Conversely, p.Asp100Tyr decreased both LysoTracker® fluorescence and LAMP1 levels, leaving EEA1 expression unaffected. Both mutations decreased v-ATPase recruitment to autophagosomes, with no major impact on autophagy. Experiments performed on patients’ lymphoblasts using the LysoSensor™ probe revealed lower pH of endocytic organelles for p.Asp349Asn and a reduced expression of LAMP1 with no effect on the pH for p.Asp100Tyr. These data demonstrate gain of function for p.Asp349Asn characterized by an increased proton pumping in intracellular organelles, and loss of function for p.Asp100Tyr with decreased expression of ATP6V1A and reduced levels of lysosomal markers. We expressed p.Asp349Asn and p.Asp100Tyr in rat hippocampal neurons and confirmed significant and opposite effects in lysosomal labelling. However, both mutations caused a similar defect in neurite elongation accompanied by loss of excitatory inputs, revealing that altered lysosomal homeostasis markedly affects neurite development and synaptic connectivity. This study provides evidence that de novo heterozygous ATP6V1A mutations cause a developmental encephalopathy with a pathomechanism that involves perturbations of lysosomal homeostasis and neuronal connectivity, uncovering a novel role for v-ATPase in neuronal development.

Keywords: developmental epileptic encephalopathy; v-ATPase; lysosomes; neurite elongation; synapse

Journal Article.  8919 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics ; Molecular and Cellular Systems