Vacuolar H+-ATPase–dependent (V-ATPase–dependent) functions are critical for neural proteostasis and are involved in neurodegeneration and brain tumorigenesis. We identified a patient with fulminant neurodegeneration of the developing brain carrying a de novo splice site variant in ATP6AP2 encoding an accessory protein of the V-ATPase. Functional studies of induced pluripotent stem cell–derived (iPSC-derived) neurons from this patient revealed reduced spontaneous activity and severe deficiency in lysosomal acidification and protein degradation leading to neuronal cell death. These deficiencies could be rescued by expression of full-length ATP6AP2. Conditional deletion of Atp6ap2 in developing mouse brain impaired V-ATPase–dependent functions, causing impaired neural stem cell self-renewal, premature neuronal differentiation, and apoptosis resulting in degeneration of nearly the entire cortex. In vitro studies revealed that ATP6AP2 deficiency decreases V-ATPase membrane assembly and increases endosomal-lysosomal fusion. We conclude that ATP6AP2 is a key mediator of V-ATPase–dependent signaling and protein degradation in the developing human central nervous system.
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