Research ArticleCell Biology

Hindered cytoplasmic diffusion of inositol trisphosphate restricts its cellular range of action

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Sci. Signal.  08 Nov 2016:
Vol. 9, Issue 453, pp. ra108
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aag1625

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A new paradigm for IP3 signaling

Receptors that activate phospholipase C generate the second messenger inositol trisphosphate (IP3). IP3 stimulates calcium release from the endoplasmic and sarcoplasmic reticulum, thereby shaping calcium signals in cells. Dickinson et al. triggered the focal release of IP3 in animal cells and measured calcium “puffs”—intense, localized increases in calcium released from the endoplasmic reticulum. They found that IP3 diffuses much more slowly within cells than had been originally measured in vitro using oocyte cytoplasmic extracts. Thus, rather than functioning as a global cellular signal, IP3 can produce local signals, which increases the complexity of information that can be encoded by cells in response to stimuli that activate receptors that generate this second messenger.