1. In electroporated L1210 cells, Ins(1,3,4,5)P4 causes Ca2+ release, owing to its conversion into Ins(1,4,5)P3, but this does not happen in cells permeabilized by digitonin treatment [Cullen, Irvine, Drøbak & Dawson (1989) Biochem. J. 259, 931-933]. 2. If the assay medium is subjected to electroporation by using a commercially available electroporation apparatus and then the cells are added and permeabilized with digitonin, the cells behave as if they had been electroporated. 3. Electroporation causes the release of high concentrations of Al3+ into the experimental medium, and addition of these concentrations of Al3+ into the experimental medium mimics the effect of electroporation on the conversion of Ins(1,3,4,5)P4 into Ins(1,4,5)P3. 4. It is concluded that the difference between electroporated and digitonin-permeabilized L1210 cells in this experimental system can be attributed to dissolution of Al3+ from the electroporation cuvette. Al3+ contamination may thus be a serious problem when using this apparatus.

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