A conserved role for AMP-activated protein kinase in NGLY1 deficiency

PLoS Genet. 2020 Dec 14;16(12):e1009258. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1009258. eCollection 2020 Dec.


Mutations in human N-glycanase 1 (NGLY1) cause the first known congenital disorder of deglycosylation (CDDG). Patients with this rare disease, which is also known as NGLY1 deficiency, exhibit global developmental delay and other phenotypes including neuropathy, movement disorder, and constipation. NGLY1 is known to regulate proteasomal and mitophagy gene expression through activation of a transcription factor called "nuclear factor erythroid 2-like 1" (NFE2L1). Loss of NGLY1 has also been shown to impair energy metabolism, but the molecular basis for this phenotype and its in vivo consequences are not well understood. Using a combination of genetic studies, imaging, and biochemical assays, here we report that loss of NGLY1 in the visceral muscle of the Drosophila larval intestine results in a severe reduction in the level of AMP-activated protein kinase α (AMPKα), leading to energy metabolism defects, impaired gut peristalsis, failure to empty the gut, and animal lethality. Ngly1-/- mouse embryonic fibroblasts and NGLY1 deficiency patient fibroblasts also show reduced AMPKα levels. Moreover, pharmacological activation of AMPK signaling significantly suppressed the energy metabolism defects in these cells. Importantly, the reduced AMPKα level and impaired energy metabolism observed in NGLY1 deficiency models are not caused by the loss of NFE2L1 activity. Taken together, these observations identify reduced AMPK signaling as a conserved mediator of energy metabolism defects in NGLY1 deficiency and suggest AMPK signaling as a therapeutic target in this disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation / metabolism*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 1 / metabolism
  • Peptide-N4-(N-acetyl-beta-glucosaminyl) Asparagine Amidase / deficiency*
  • Peptide-N4-(N-acetyl-beta-glucosaminyl) Asparagine Amidase / metabolism
  • Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 1
  • Protein Kinases
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases
  • Peptide-N4-(N-acetyl-beta-glucosaminyl) Asparagine Amidase

Supplementary concepts

  • NGLY1 deficiency