ATM loss disrupts the autophagy-lysosomal pathway

Aifang Cheng, Kai Hei Tse, Hei Man Chow, Yunqiao Gan, Xuan Song, Fulin Ma, Yi Xuan Yvonne Qian, Weiyi She, Karl Herrup

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


ATM (ataxia telangiectasia mutated) protein is found associated with multiple organelles including synaptic vesicles, endosomes and lysosomes, often in cooperation with ATR (ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3 related). Mutation of the ATM gene results in ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T), an autosomal recessive disorder with defects in multiple organs including the nervous system. Precisely how ATM deficiency leads to the complex phenotypes of A-T, however, remains elusive. Here, we reported that part of the connection may lie in autophagy and lysosomal abnormalities. We found that ATM was degraded through the autophagy pathway, while ATR was processed by the proteasome. Autophagy and lysosomal trafficking were both abnormal in atm−/−  neurons and the deficits impacted cellular functions such as synapse maintenance, neuronal survival and glucose uptake. Upregulated autophagic flux was observed in atm−/− lysosomes, associated with a more acidic pH. Significantly, we found that the ATP6V1A (ATPase, H+ transporting, lysosomal V1 subunit A) proton pump was an ATM kinase target. In atm−/− neurons, lysosomes showed enhanced retrograde transport and accumulated in the perinuclear regions. We attributed this change to an unexpected physical interaction between ATM and the retrograde transport motor protein, dynein. As a consequence, SLC2A4/GLUT4 (solute carrier family 4 [facilitated glucose transporter], member 4) translocation to the plasma membrane was inhibited and trafficking to the lysosomes was increased, leading to impaired glucose uptake capacity. Together, these data underscored the involvement of ATM in a variety of neuronal vesicular trafficking processes, offering new and therapeutically useful insights into the pathogenesis of A-T.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date14 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Ataxia-telangiectasia
  • autophagy
  • lysosome
  • neurodegeneration
  • protein degradation
  • SLC2A4/GLUT4
  • trafficking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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