Prs [PRPP (phosphoribosyl pyrophosphate) synthetase] catalyses the transfer of pyrophosphate from ATP to ribose 5-phosphate, thereby activating the pentose sugar for incorporation into purine and pyrimidine nucleotides. The Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome contains five genes, PRS1PRS5, whose products display characteristic PRPP and bivalent-cation-binding sites of Prs polypeptides. Deletion of one or more of the five PRS genes has far-reaching and unexpected consequences, e.g. impaired cell integrity, temperature-sensitivity and sensitivity to VPA (valproic acid) and LiCl. CTP pools in prs1Δ and prs3Δ are reduced to 12 and 31% of the wild-type respectively, resulting in an imbalance in phospholipid metabolism which may have an impact on the intracellular inositol pool which is affected by the administration of either VPA or LiCl. Overexpression of CTP synthetase in prs1Δ prs3Δ strains partially reverses the VPA-sensitive phenotype. Yeast two-hybrid screening revealed that Prs3 and the yeast orthologue of GSK3 (glycogen synthase kinase 3), Rim11, a serine/threonine kinase involved in several signalling pathways, interact with each other. Furthermore, Prs5, an essential partner of Prs3, which also interacts with GSK3 contains three neighbouring phosphorylation sites, typical of GSK3 activation. These studies on yeast PRPP synthetases bring together and expand the current theories for the mood-stabilizing effects of VPA and LiCl in bipolar disorder.

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