When [3H]inositol-prelabelled rat parotid-gland slices were stimulated with carbachol, noradrenaline or Substance P, the major inositol trisphosphate produced with prolonged exposure to agonists was, in each case, inositol 1,3,4-trisphosphate. Much lower amounts of radioactivity were present in the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate fraction separated by anion-exchange h.p.l.c. Analysis of the inositol trisphosphate head group of phosphatidylinositol bisphosphate in [32P]Pi-labelled parotid glands showed the presence of phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate, but no detectable phosphatidylinositol 3,4-bisphosphate. Carbachol-stimulated [3H]inositol-labelled parotid glands contained an inositol polyphosphate with the chromatographic properties and electrophoretic mobility of an inositol tetrakisphosphate, the probable structure of which was determined to be inositol 1,3,4,5-tetrakisphosphate. Since an enzyme in erythrocyte membranes is capable of degrading this tetrakisphosphate to inositol 1,3,4-trisphosphate, it is suggested to be the precursor of inositol 1,3,4-trisphosphate in parotid glands.

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