Phosphorylated phosphatidylinositol lipids are crucial for most eukaryotes and have diverse cellular functions. The low-abundance signalling lipid phosphatidylinositol 3,5-bisphosphate [PI(3,5)P2] is critical for cellular homoeostasis and adaptation to stimuli. A large complex of proteins that includes the lipid kinase Fab1–PIKfyve, dynamically regulates the levels of PI(3,5)P2. Deficiencies in PI(3,5)P2 are linked to some human diseases, especially those of the nervous system. Future studies will probably determine new, undiscovered regulatory roles of PI(3,5)P2, as well as uncover mechanistic insights into how PI(3,5)P2 contributes to normal human physiology.

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