AGAP1-associated endolysosomal trafficking abnormalities link gene-environment interactions in neurodevelopmental disorders

Dis Model Mech. 2023 Sep 1;16(9):dmm049838. doi: 10.1242/dmm.049838. Epub 2023 Sep 26.


AGAP1 is an Arf1 GTPase-activating protein that regulates endolysosomal trafficking. Damaging variants have been linked to cerebral palsy and autism. We report three new cases in which individuals had microdeletion variants in AGAP1. The affected individuals had intellectual disability (3/3), autism (3/3), dystonia with axial hypotonia (1/3), abnormalities of brain maturation (1/3), growth impairment (2/3) and facial dysmorphism (2/3). We investigated mechanisms potentially underlying AGAP1 variant-mediated neurodevelopmental impairments using the Drosophila ortholog CenG1a. We discovered reduced axon terminal size, increased neuronal endosome abundance and elevated autophagy compared to those in controls. Given potential incomplete penetrance, we assessed gene-environment interactions. We found basal elevation in the phosphorylation of the integrated stress-response protein eIF2α (or eIF2A) and inability to further increase eIF2α phosphorylation with subsequent cytotoxic stressors. CenG1a-mutant flies had increased lethality from exposure to environmental insults. We propose a model wherein disruption of AGAP1 function impairs endolysosomal trafficking, chronically activating the integrated stress response and leaving AGAP1-deficient cells susceptible to a variety of second-hit cytotoxic stressors. This model may have broader applicability beyond AGAP1 in instances where both genetic and environmental insults co-occur in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders.

Keywords: Drosophila; AGAP1; Autophagy; Endolysosome; Synaptic morphology; eIF2α.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Endosomes
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins
  • Gene-Environment Interaction*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability* / genetics


  • AGAP1 protein, human
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins