We have developed methods that yield estimates of the 32P content of each of the individual phosphate groups of phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate and phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate, thus extending the information available from studies of the labelling of these lipids in intact cells or membrane preparations. The analyses are undertaken with the deacylated lipids. Assay of the 5-phosphate of phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate is achieved by the use, under conditions of first-order kinetics, of a 5-phosphate-specific phosphomonoesterase present in isolated erythrocyte membranes [Downes, Mussat & Michell (1982) Biochem. J. 203, 169-177]. Assay of the 4-phosphate of phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate and of the total monoester phosphate content (4-phosphate plus 5-phosphate) of phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate employs alkaline phosphatase from bovine intestine. The radioactivity of the 1-phosphate is that remaining as organic phosphate after exhaustive alkaline phosphatase treatment. The methodology has been validated by using lipids from human erythrocytes: these contain no 32P in their 1-phosphate. These methods should be of substantial value in studies of the many cells that show rapid hormonal perturbations of phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate metabolism.

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