One Scaffold, Two Conformations: The Ring-Flip of the Messenger InsP8 Occurs under Cytosolic Conditions

L. Kurz; P. Schmieder; N. Veiga; D. Fiedler

Biomolecules 13, 645 (2023)

Inositol poly- and pyrophosphates (InsPs and PP-InsPs) are central eukaryotic messengers. These very highly phosphorylated molecules can exist in two distinct conformations, a canonical one with five phosphoryl groups in equatorial positions, and a "flipped" conformation with five axial substituents. Using 13C-labeled InsPs/PP-InsPs, the behavior of these molecules was investigated by 2D-NMR under solution conditions reminiscent of a cytosolic environment. Remarkably, the most highly phosphorylated messenger 1,5(PP)2-InsP4 (also termed InsP8) readily adopts both conformations at physiological conditions. Environmental factors-such as pH, metal cation composition, and temperature-strongly influence the conformational equilibrium. Thermodynamic data revealed that the transition of InsP8 from the equatorial to the axial conformation is, in fact, an exothermic process. The speciation of InsPs and PP-InsPs also affects their interaction with protein binding partners; addition of Mg2+ decreased the binding constant Kd of InsP8 to an SPX protein domain. The results illustrate that PP-InsP speciation reacts very sensitively to solution conditions, suggesting it might act as an environment-responsive molecular switch.