Control of eukaryotic phosphate homeostasis by inositol polyphosphate sensor domains

Science. 2016 May 20;352(6288):986-90. doi: 10.1126/science.aad9858. Epub 2016 Apr 14.


Phosphorus is a macronutrient taken up by cells as inorganic phosphate (P(i)). How cells sense cellular P(i) levels is poorly characterized. Here, we report that SPX domains--which are found in eukaryotic phosphate transporters, signaling proteins, and inorganic polyphosphate polymerases--provide a basic binding surface for inositol polyphosphate signaling molecules (InsPs), the concentrations of which change in response to P(i) availability. Substitutions of critical binding surface residues impair InsP binding in vitro, inorganic polyphosphate synthesis in yeast, and P(i) transport in Arabidopsis In plants, InsPs trigger the association of SPX proteins with transcription factors to regulate P(i) starvation responses. We propose that InsPs communicate cytosolic P(i) levels to SPX domains and enable them to interact with a multitude of proteins to regulate P(i) uptake, transport, and storage in fungi, plants, and animals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / chemistry
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Homeostasis*
  • Humans
  • Inositol / metabolism*
  • Phosphate Transport Proteins / chemistry*
  • Phosphate Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Phosphorus / metabolism*
  • Polyphosphates / metabolism*
  • Protein Structure, Secondary / genetics
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transferases (Other Substituted Phosphate Groups) / chemistry*
  • Transferases (Other Substituted Phosphate Groups) / genetics


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • PHO1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Phosphate Transport Proteins
  • Polyphosphates
  • Transcription Factors
  • Phosphorus
  • Inositol
  • Transferases (Other Substituted Phosphate Groups)