Since the discovery of the phosphoinositide/phospholipase C (PI/PLC) system in animal systems, we know that phospholipids are much more then just structural components of biological membranes. In the beginning, this idea was fairly straightforward. Receptor stimulation activates PLC, which hydrolyses phosphatidylinositol4,5-bisphosphate [PtdIns(4,5)P2] into two second messengers: inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (InsP3) and diacylglycerol (DG). While InsP3 difuses into the cytosol and triggers the release of calcium from an internal store via ligand-gated calcium channels, DG remains in the membrane where it recruits and activates members of the PKC family. The increase in calcium, together with the change in phosphorylation status, (in)activates a variety of protein targets, leading to a massive reprogramming, allowing the cell to appropriately respond to the extracellular stimulus. Later, it became obvious that not just PLC, but a variety of other phospholipid-metabolizing enzymes were activated, including phospholipase A, phospholipase D, and PI 3-kinase. More recently, it has become apparent that PtdIns4P and PtdIns(4,5)P2 are not just signal precursors but can also function as signaling molecules themselves. While plants contain most of the components described above, and evidence for their role in cell signaling is progressively increasing, major differences between plants and the mammalian paradigms exist. Below, these are described “in a nutshell.
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