Phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PtdIns3P) is generated on the cytosolic leaflet of cellular membranes, primarily by phosphorylation of phosphatidylinositol by class II and class III phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases. The bulk of this lipid is found on the limiting and intraluminal membranes of endosomes, but it can also be detected in domains of phagosomes, autophagosome precursors, cytokinetic bridges, the plasma membrane and the nucleus. PtdIns3P controls cellular functions through recruitment of specific protein effectors, many of which contain FYVE or PX domains. Cellular processes known to be controlled by PtdIns3P and its effectors include endosomal fusion, sorting and motility, autophagy, cytokinesis, regulated exocytosis and signal transduction. Here we discuss how Ptdins3P is generated on specific cellular membranes, how its localizations and functions can be studied, and how its effectors serve to control cellular functions.
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