The specific interaction of phosphoinositides with proteins is critical for a plethora of cellular processes, including cytoskeleton remodelling, mitogenic signalling, ion channel regulation and membrane traffic. The spatiotemporal restriction of different phosphoinositide species helps to define compartments within the cell, and this is particularly important for membrane trafficking within both the secretory and endocytic pathways. Phosphoinositide homoeostasis is tightly regulated by a large number of inositol kinases and phosphatases, which respectively phosphorylate and dephosphorylate distinct phosphoinositide species. Many of these enzymes have been implicated in regulating membrane trafficking and, accordingly, their dysregulation has been linked to a number of human diseases. In the present review, we focus on the inositol phosphatases, concentrating on their roles in membrane trafficking and the human diseases with which they have been associated.

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