1. Temporal changes in the levels of many inositol phosphates, whose structural characterization is presented in the preceding paper [Wong, Barker, Morris, Craxton, Kirk & Michell (1991) Biochem. J. 286, 459-468], have been monitored in vasopressin-stimulated WRK-1 cells. 2. Upon stimulation, Ins(1,4,5)P3 accumulated within 1 s, consistent with its role as a rapidly acting second messenger produced by receptor activation of phosphoinositidase C. Ins(1,4)P2 and Ins(1,3,4,5)P4, both of which are immediate products of Ins(1,4,5)P3 metabolism, also accumulated quickly. Ins4P, Ins(1,3,4)P3, Ins(3,4)P2, Ins(1,3)P2, Ins1P and Ins3P, which are intermediates in the metabolism of Ins(1,4)P2 and Ins(1,3,4,5)P4 to inositol, accumulated after seconds or within a few minutes, and in a temporal sequence consistent with their known metabolic interrelationships. 3. The stimulated accumulation of Ins(1,3,4,6)P4 was delayed, as expected if it is formed by phosphorylation of Ins(1,3,4)P3. 4. Ins(3,4,5,6)P4 accumulated 2-3-fold in a few minutes, and mainly before Ins(1,3,4,6)P4. 5. Using a [3H]-/[14C]-inositol double-labelling protocol, we obtained evidence that all of the compounds that accumulated upon stimulation, except Ins(3,4,5,6)P4, originated from lipid-derived Ins(1,4,5)P3, but that the newly formed Ins(3,4,5,6)P4 came from a different source. 6. There were no consistent changes in the levels of Ins(1,3,4,5,6)P5 and InsP6 during stimulation. 7. Alongside the gradual accumulation of Ins(1:2-cyclic,4,5)P3 during stimulation [Wong, Barker, Shears, Kirk & Michell (1988) Biochem. J. 252, 1-5], there was an accumulation of Ins(1:2-cyclic,4)P2 and Ins(1:2-cyclic)P, probably as either minor side products of phosphoinositidase C action or metabolites of Ins(1:2-cyclic,4,5)P3. 8. When Li+ was present during stimulation, it redirected the dephosphorylation pathways downstream of Ins(1,4,5)P3 in the manner expected from its inhibition of inositol monophosphatase and Ins(1,4)P2/Ins(1,3,4)P3 1-phosphatase: there were marked increases in the accumulation of Ins(1,4)P2 and Ins(1,3,4)P3 and of monophosphates. Moreover, Li+ shifted the Ins1P/Ins3P balance in favour of Ins1P, thus demonstrating redirection of the metabolism of the accumulated Ins(1,3,4)P3 towards Ins(1,3)P2 rather than Ins(3,4)P2.

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