Up-regulation of protein L-isoaspartyl methyltransferase expression by lithium is mediated by glycogen synthase kinase-3 inactivation and beta-catenin stabilization

Neuropharmacology. 2008 Oct;55(5):669-76. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2008.05.033. Epub 2008 Jun 6.


During cell aging, proteins accumulate damages, which affect their structure and activity. The protein l-isoaspartyl methyltransferase (PIMT) is involved in the repair of proteins containing abnormal L-isoaspartyl residues. Although its mechanism of action is well defined, little is known about the pathways involved in the regulation of PIMT expression. In this study, we demonstrated that glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) and beta-catenin are involved in the regulation of PIMT expression. Treatment of astrocytoma cells (U-87) with direct pharmacological GSK-3 inhibitors such as lithium, SB-216763 and SB-415286 stimulated PIMT expression ( approximately twofold). As expected, GSK-3 inhibition led to an increase of phosphorylated GSK-3beta (Ser9) and to beta-catenin accumulation. PIMT induction by lithium was dependent on increased protein synthesis. In addition, RT-PCR analysis showed higher level of PIMT mRNA following GSK-3 inhibition, which was abolished by the transcriptional inhibitor actinomycin D. These results demonstrated regulation of PIMT expression by lithium at both the transcriptional and the translational levels. Additionally, inhibition by siRNA of GSK-3 and beta-catenin modulated the expression of the PIMT in accordance with GSK-3 pharmacological inhibition. Valproic acid, an antiepileptic drug with mood-stabilizing properties, up-regulated phospho-GSK-3beta (Ser9), beta-catenin and PIMT levels similarly to lithium. This study reports that PIMT expression is up-regulated by GSK-3 inhibition and beta-catenin stabilization upon treatments with lithium and valproic acid. These findings suggest a possible therapeutic role for PIMT in certain brain diseases including epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / pharmacology*
  • Astrocytoma
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lithium Chloride / pharmacology*
  • Protein D-Aspartate-L-Isoaspartate Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Protein D-Aspartate-L-Isoaspartate Methyltransferase / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering / pharmacology
  • Time Factors
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects*
  • Valproic Acid / pharmacology
  • beta Catenin / genetics
  • beta Catenin / metabolism*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • beta Catenin
  • Valproic Acid
  • Protein D-Aspartate-L-Isoaspartate Methyltransferase
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3
  • Lithium Chloride