Phosphatidylinositol (PI) is the precursor lipid for the synthesis of PI 4,5-bisphosphate [PI(4,5)P2] at the plasma membrane (PM) and is sequentially phosphorylated by the lipid kinases, PI 4-kinase and phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate (PI4P)-5-kinase. Receptor-mediated hydrolysis of PI(4,5)P2 takes place at the PM but PI resynthesis occurs at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Thus PI(4,5)P2 resynthesis requires the reciprocal transport of two key intermediates, phosphatidic acid (PA) and PI between the ER and the PM. PI transfer proteins (PITPs), defined by the presence of the PITP domain, can facilitate lipid transfer between membranes; the PITP domain comprises a hydrophobic cavity with dual specificity but accommodates a single phospholipid molecule. The class II PITP, retinal degeneration type B (RdgB)α is a multi-domain protein and its PITP domain can bind and transfer PI and PA. In Drosophila photoreceptors, a well-defined G-protein-coupled phospholipase Cβ (PLCβ) signalling pathway, phototransduction defects resulting from loss of RdgBα can be rescued by expression of the PITP domain provided it is competent for both PI and PA transfer. We propose that RdgBα proteins maintain PI(4,5)P2 homoeostasis after PLC activation by facilitating the reciprocal transport of PA and PI at ER–PM membrane contact sites.

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