The effect of Li+ on GSK-3 inhibition: Molecular dynamics simulation

Key Laboratory for Molecular Design and Nutrition Engineering of Ningbo City, Ningbo Institute of Technology, Zhejiang University, Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, People's Republic of China.
Journal of Molecular Modeling (Impact Factor: 1.74). 02/2011; 17(2):377-81. DOI: 10.1007/s00894-010-0738-0
Source: PubMed


Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) is a kind of serine-threonine protein kinase. It places important roles in several signaling pathways and it is a key therapeutic target for a number of diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's disease and chronic inflammation. Mg(2+) ions which interact with ATP are conserved in GSK. They are important in phosphoryl transfer. Li(+) is an inhibitor for GSK-3. It is used to treat bipolar mood disorder. This paper illustrates the effect of Li(+) on GSK-3. When Mg(I)(2+) is replaced by Li(+), the atom fluctuation of GSK-3 will rise, and the in-line phosphoryl transfer mechanism is probably demolished and the binding of pre-phosphorylated substrates may be disturbed. All the results we obtained clearly suggest that inhibition to GSK-3 is caused by the Mg(I)(2+) replacement with Li(+).

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    • "It has already been shown that treatment of rats or humans with therapeutic doses of lithium induced neuronal plasticity related to LTP [16] [17]. Although these doses were higher than the one used in this study, the effects were related to the inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3) activity, which is a postulated molecular action mechanism for lithium salts [18] [19] [20]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β) is a serine/threonine kinase that requires two cofactor Mg(2+) ions for catalysis in regulating many important cellular signals. Experimentally, Li(+) is a competitive inhibitor of GSK3β relative to Mg(2+), while this mechanism is not experienced with other group I metal ions. Herein, we use native Mg(2)(2+)-Mg(1)(2+) GSK3β and its Mg(2)(2+)-M(1)(+) (M = Li, Na, K, and Rb) derivatives to investigate the effect of metal ion substitution on the mechanism of inhibition through two-layer ONIOM-based quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) calculations and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. The results of ONIOM calculations elucidate that the interaction of Na(+), K(+), and Rb(+) with ATP is weaker compared to that of Mg(2+) and Li(+) with ATP, and the critical triphosphate moiety of ATP undergoes a large conformational change in the Na(+), K(+), and Rb(+) substituted systems. As a result, the three metal ions (Na(+), K(+), and Rb(+)) are not stable and depart from the active site, while Mg(2+) and Li(+) can stabilize in the active site, evident in MD simulations. Comparisons of Mg(2)(2+)-Mg(1)(2+) and Mg(2)(2+)-Li(1)(+) systems reveal that the inline phosphor-transfer of ATP and the two conserved hydrogen bonds between Lys85 and ATP, together with the electrostatic potential at the Li(1)(+) site, are disrupted in the Mg(2)(2+)-Li(1)(+) system. These computational results highlight the possible mechanism why Li(+) inhibits GSK3β.
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    ABSTRACT: Lithium is used (in the form of soluble salts) to treat bipolar disorder and has been considered as a possible drug in treating chronic neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's diseases. One of the proposed mechanisms of Li(+) action involves a competition between the alien Li(+) and native Mg(2+) for metal-binding sites and subsequent inhibition of key enzymes involved in specific neurotransmission pathways, but not vital Mg(2+) proteins in the cell. This raises the following intriguing questions: Why does Li(+) replace Mg(2+) only in enzymes involved in bipolar disorder, but not in Mg(2+) proteins essential to cells? In general, what factors allow monovalent Li(+) to displace divalent Mg(2+) in proteins? Specifically, how do the composition, overall charge, and solvent exposure of the metal-binding site as well as a metal-bound phosphate affect the selectivity of Li(+) over Mg(2+)? Among the many possible factors, we show that the competition between Mg(2+) and Li(+) depends on the net charge of the metal complex, which is determined by the numbers of metal cations and negatively charged ligands, as well as the relative solvent exposure of the metal cavity. The protein itself is found to select Mg(2+) over the monovalent Li(+) by providing a solvent-inaccessible Mg(2+)-binding site lined by negatively charged Asp/Glu, whereas the cell machinery was found to select Mg(2+) among other competing divalent cations in the cellular fluids such as Ca(2+) and Zn(2+) by maintaining a high concentration ratio of Mg(2+) to its biogenic competitor in various biological compartments. The calculations reveal why Li(+) replaces Mg(2+) only in enzymes that are known targets of Li(+) therapy, but not in Mg(2+) enzymes essential to cells, and also reveal features common to the former that differ from those in the latter proteins.
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