Where do you turn if your research flings you into a completely new field? The story on page 6 will doubtless have experts in DNA repair grappling with myo-inositol and its extended family; but if you don't know your phytate from your pentakisphosphates, help is at hand.
Most of the researchers who study inositol phosphates view the calcium-releasing second messenger inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate as the centre of their universe (see the review by Michael J. Berridge and colleagues on page 11 of this issue), but Stephen Shears at the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has a different perspective: he has put together an online tutorial on the more-highly phosphorylated inositol polyphosphates, with inositol hexakisphosphate (InsP6, also known as phytate) at its hub. The front page provides a map of inositol polyphosphate metabolism, and clicking on different sections of it takes you to reviews on the metabolism and functions of just about every inositol polyphosphate known to exist. There's some valuable historical background information (see, for example, the section on the Ins(1,4,5)P3–Ins(1,3,4,5)P4 cycle) and fascinating insights into the variety of cellular processes that these molecules have been implicated in. Each review has an extensive reference list and is regularly updated.
One thing that is missing, however, is a guide to their nomenclature. A myo-inositol guide written by the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology's committee of nomenclature experts explains all. It may shock you to learn that this was written in 1988, but it is comforting to know that one thing in this field has stayed the same for 12 years.
About this article
Cite this article
Brooksbank, C. Untangling inositol. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 1, 7 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1038/35036023