Myo-inositol is present in nature either unmodified or in more complex phosphorylated derivates. Of the latest, the two most abundant in eukaryotic cells are inositol pentakisphosphate (IP5) and inositol hexakisphosphate (phytic acid or IP6). IP5 and IP6 are the precursors of inositol pyrophosphate molecules that contain one or more pyrophosphate bonds1. Phosphorylation of IP6 generates diphoshoinositolpentakisphosphate (IP7 or PP-IP5) and bisdiphoshoinositoltetrakisphosphate (IP8 or (PP)2-IP4). Inositol pyrophosphates have been isolated from all eukaryotic organisms so far studied. In addition, the two distinct classes of enzymes responsible for inositol pyrophosphate synthesis are highly conserved throughout evolution2-4.
The IP6 kinases (IP6Ks) posses an enormous catalytic flexibility, converting IP5 and IP6 to PP-IP4 and IP7 respectively and subsequently, by using these products as substrates, promote the generation of more complex molecules5,6. Recently, a second class of pyrophosphate generating enzymes was identified in the form of the yeast protein VIP1 (also referred as PP-IP5K), which is able to convert IP6 to IP7 and IP87,8.
Inositol pyrophosphates regulate many disparate cellular processes such as insulin secretion9, telomere length10,11, chemotaxis12, vesicular trafficking13, phosphate homeostasis14 and HIV-1 gag release15. Two mechanisms of actions have been proposed for this class of molecules. They can affect cellular function by allosterically interacting with specific proteins like AKT16. Alternatively, the pyrophosphate group can donate a phosphate to pre-phosphorylated proteins17. The enormous potential of this research field is hampered by the absence of a commercial source of inositol pyrophosphates, which is preventing many scientists from studying these molecules and this new post-translational modification. The methods currently available to isolate inositol pyrophosphates require sophisticated chromatographic apparatus18,19. These procedures use acidic conditions that might lead to inositol pyrophosphate degradation20 and thus to poor recovery. Furthermore, the cumbersome post-column desalting procedures restrict their use to specialized laboratories.
In this study we describe an undemanding method for the generation, isolation and purification of the products of the IP6-kinase and PP-IP5-kinases reactions. This method was possible by the ability of polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) to resolve highly phosphorylated inositol polyphosphates20. Following IP6K1 and PP-IP5K enzymatic reactions using IP6 as the substrate, PAGE was used to separate the generated inositol pyrophosphates that were subsequently eluted in water.