Cell membrane permeable esters of d-myo-inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate

Kenneth Dakin, Wen Hong Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


d-myo-inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (Ins(1,4,5)P3, or IP3) is a ubiquitous second messenger that regulates cytosolic Ca2+ activities ([Ca2+]i). To study this signaling branch in intact cells, we have synthesized a caged and cell permeable derivative of IP3, ci-IP3/PM, from myo-inositol in 9 steps. Ci-IP3/PM is a homologue of cm-IP3/PM, a caged and cell permeable IP3 ester developed earlier. In ci-IP3/PM, 2- and 3-hydroxyl groups of myo-inositiol are protected by an isopropylidene group; whereas in cm-IP3/PM, a methoxymethylene is used. Ci-IP3/PM can be loaded into cells non-invasively to high concentrations without activating IP3 receptors (IP3Rs). UV uncaging of loaded ci-IP3 released i-IP3, a potent agonist of IP3Rs, and evoked Ca2+ release from internal stores. Interestingly, elevations of [Ca2+]i by i-IP3 lasted longer than [Ca2+]i transients by m-IP3, the uncaging product of cm-IP3. To understand this difference, we measured the metabolic stability of i-IP3 and m-IP3. Like natural IP3 which is known to be rapidly metabolized in cells, m-IP3 could only be detected within several seconds after uncaging cm-IP3. In contrast, i-IP3 was metabolized at a much slower rate. By exploiting different metabolic rates of m-IP3 and i-IP3, we developed two procedures for activating IP3Rs in cells without UV uncaging. The first method involves photolyzing ci-IP3/PM in vitro to generate i-IP3/PM. Successive additions of low micromolar i-IP3/PM to NIH 3T3 cells caused graded Ca2+ releases, confirming that "quantal Ca2+ release" occurs in fully intact cells with normal ATP supplies and undisrupted endoplasmic reticulum. The second technique utilizes two photon uncaging. After locally illuminating cells loaded with cm-IP3 with femtosecond-pulsed near-infrared light (730 nm), we observed a burst of Ca2+ activity in the uncaging area. This local Ca2+ rise rapidly propagated across cells and could be repeated many times in different sub-cellular locations to produce artificial Ca2+ oscillations of defined amplitudes and frequencies. The complementary advantages of these IP3 prodrugs should provide new approaches for studying IP3-Ca2+ signaling in intact cell populations with high spatiotemporal resolutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-301
Number of pages11
JournalCell Calcium
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Calcium signaling
  • Cell permeable ester of IP3
  • IP3
  • IP3/PM
  • Prodrug design
  • Quantal calcium release
  • Second messenger
  • Two photon uncaging
  • ci-IP3/PM
  • cm-IP3/PM
  • i-IP3/PM
  • m-IP3/PM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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