Résumé : The action of carbachol on the generation of inositol trisphosphate and tetrakisphosphate isomers was investigated in dog-thyroid primary cultured cells radiolabelled with [3H]inositol. The separation of the inositol phosphate isomers was performed by reverse-phase high pressure liquid chromatography. The structure of inositol phosphates co-eluting with inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate [Ins(1,4,5)P3] and inositol 1,3,4,5-tetrakisphosphate [Ins(1,3,4,5)P4] standards was determined by enzymatic degradation using a purified Ins(1,4,5)P3/Ins(1,3,4,5)P4 5-phosphatase. The data indicate that Ins(1,3,4,5)P4 was the only [3H]inositol phosphate which co-eluted with a [32P]Ins(1,3,4,5)P4 standard, whereas 80% of the [3H]InsP3 co-eluting with an Ins(1,4,5)P3 standard was actually this isomer. In the presence of Li+, carbachol led to rapid increases in [3H]Ins(1,4,5)P4. The level of Ins(1,4,5)P3 reached a peak at 200% of the control after 5-10 s of stimulation and fell to a plateau that remained slightly elevated for 2 min. The level of Ins(1,3,4,5)P4 reached its maximum at 20s. The level of inositol 1,3,4-trisphosphate [Ins(1,3,4)P3] increased continuously for 2 min after the addition of carbachol. Inositol-phosphate generation was also investigated under different pharmacological conditions. Li+ largely increased the level of Ins(1,3,4)P3 but had no effect on Ins(1,4,5)P3 and Ins(1,3,4,5)P4. Forskolin, which stimulates dog-thyroid adenylate cyclase and cyclic-AMP accumulation, had no effect on the generation of inositol phosphates. The absence of extracellular Ca2+ largely decreased the level of Ins(1,3,4,5)P4 as expected considering the Ca2(+)-calmodulin sensitivity of the Ins(1,4,5)P3 3-kinase. Staurosporine, an inhibitor of protein kinase C, increased the levels of Ins(1,4,5)P3, Ins(1,3,4,5)P4 and Ins(1,3,4)P3. This supports a negative feedback control of diacyglycerol on Ins(1,4,5)P3 generation.