Phosphoinositides (PtdInsPs) modulate a plethora of functions including signal transduction and membrane trafficking. PtdInsPs are thought to consist of seven interconvertible species that localize to a specific organelle, to which they recruit a set of cognate effector proteins. Here, in reviewing the literature, we argue that this model needs revision. First, PtdInsPs can carry a variety of acyl chains, greatly boosting their molecular diversity. Second, PtdInsPs are more promiscuous in their localization than is usually acknowledged. Third, PtdInsP interconversion is likely achieved through kinase-phosphatase enzyme complexes that coordinate their activities and channel substrates without affecting bulk substrate population. Additionally, we contend that despite hundreds of PtdInsP effectors, our attention is biased toward few proteins. Lastly, we recognize that PtdInsPs can act to nucleate coincidence detection at the effector level, as in PDK1 and Akt. Overall, better integrated models of PtdInsP regulation and function are not only possible but needed.
Keywords: cellular organization; eukaryotes; lipids; membranes; organelles; phosphoinositides; protein-lipid interactions.
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