ReviewCell Biology

Inositol Pyrophosphates as Mammalian Cell Signals

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Sci. Signal.  30 Aug 2011:
Vol. 4, Issue 188, pp. re1
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2001958

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The inositol pyrophosphates are biological messenger molecules with diverse functions in organisms ranging from slime molds to mammals. Although the existence of inositol pyrophosphates was demonstrated in the early 1990s, substantial progress in understanding their functions in mammalian signaling awaited the identification and cloning of their biosynthetic enzymes and the recent generation of relevant knockout mice. Inositol pyrophosphates have been linked to cellular processes as diverse as vesicular trafficking, telomere length maintenance, apoptosis, and insulin secretion. Phenotypic alterations of mice with targeted deletion of key biosynthetic enzymes have revealed roles for these enzymes and their products in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, protein synthesis, cancer, and innate immunity. Although yeast and other primitive organisms have provided valuable insights, this review, in the interest of brevity, focuses primarily on mammalian systems.