Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

GABARAPs dysfunction by autophagy deficiency in adolescent brain impairs GABAA receptor trafficking and social behavior

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Science Advances  10 Apr 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 4, eaau8237
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau8237


Dysfunctional mTOR signaling is associated with the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders. However, it is unclear what molecular mechanisms and pathogenic mediators are involved and whether mTOR-regulated autophagy continues to be crucial beyond neurodevelopment. Here, we selectively deleted Atg7 in forebrain GABAergic interneurons in adolescent mice and unexpectedly found that these mice showed a set of behavioral deficits similar to Atg7 deletion in forebrain excitatory neurons. By unbiased quantitative proteomic analysis, we identified γ-aminobutyric acid receptor–associated protein-like 2 (GABARAPL2) to differentially form high–molecular weight species in autophagy-deficient brains. Further functional analyses revealed a novel pathogenic mechanism involving the p62-dependent sequestration of GABARAP family proteins, leading to the reduction of surface GABAA receptor levels. Our work demonstrates a novel physiological role for autophagy in regulating GABA signaling beyond postnatal neurodevelopment, providing a potential mechanism for the reduced inhibitory inputs observed in neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders with mTOR hyperactivation.

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