Analysis of highly phosphorylated inositols in avian and crocodilian erythrocytes

Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol. 2003 May;135(1):169-75. doi: 10.1016/s1096-4959(03)00077-0.


Both morphological and paleontological characteristics support the hypothesis of a monophyletic origin of crocodilian and avian groups. However, while the erythrocytes of all birds studied to date are reported to contain high levels of inositol pentakisphosphate (InsP(5)), which acts as an allosteric effector of hemoglobin, this molecule has not been reported in crocodilian erythrocytes. In this study we compare the highly phosphorylated inositols in crocodilian and avian erythrocytes using a particularly sensitive analytical procedure. Our aim was to obtain new data which might provide further evidence for the monophyletic origin, or otherwise, of crocodiles and birds. We studied three avian and three crocodilian species. The erythrocytes of the three bird species contained low levels of inositol-3,4,5,6-tetrakisphosphate and inositol-1,3,4,6-tetrakisphosphate, thought to be precursors of Ins(1,3,4,5,6)P(5). The crocodilian erythrocytes studied contained Ins(1,3,4,5,6)P(5) and InsP(6) in higher concentrations than those found in mammal erythrocytes and in other more active cells such as macrophages. Our data provide further evidence of the similarity between crocodilian and avian groups and agree with the hypothesis that both groups evolved from a common ancestor. The process by which the function of inositol phosphates changed from that of intracellular signaling to hemoglobin allosteric effector is discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alligators and Crocodiles / blood*
  • Animals
  • Birds / blood*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Inositol Phosphates / blood*
  • Isomerism


  • Hemoglobins
  • Inositol Phosphates
  • inositol-1,3,4,5,6-pentakisphosphate
  • inositol-1,3,4,6-tetrakisphosphate