Studies have shown that the inositol biosynthetic pathway and the enzyme glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) are targets of the mood-stabilizing drugs lithium and valproate. However, a relationship between these targets has not been previously described. We hypothesized that GSK-3 may play a role in inositol synthesis, and that loss of GSK-3 may lead to inositol depletion, thus providing a mechanistic link between the two drug targets. Utilizing a yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae gsk-3Delta quadruple-null mutant, in which all four genes encoding homologues of mammalian GSK-3 are disrupted, we tested the hypothesis that GSK-3 is required for de novo inositol biosynthesis. The gsk-3Delta mutant exhibited multiple features of inositol depletion, including defective growth in inositol-lacking medium, decreased intracellular inositol, increased INO1 and ITR1 expression, and decreased levels of phosphatidylinositol. Treatment of wild-type cells with a highly specific GSK-3 inhibitor led to a significant increase in INO1 expression. Supplementation with inositol alleviated the temperature sensitivity of gsk-3Delta. Activity of myo-inositol-3 phosphate synthase, the rate-limiting enzyme in inositol de novo biosynthesis, was decreased in gsk-3Delta. These results demonstrate for the first time that GSK-3 is required for optimal myo-inositol-3 phosphate synthase activity and de novo inositol biosynthesis, and that loss of GSK-3 activity causes inositol depletion.
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