PH domains (pleckstrin homology domains) are the 11th most common domain in the human genome and are best known for their ability to target cellular membranes by binding specifically to phosphoinositides. Recent studies in yeast have shown that, in fact, this is a property of only a small fraction of the known PH domains. Most PH domains are not capable of independent membrane targeting, and those capable of doing so (approx. 33%) appear, most often, to require both phosphoinositide and non-phosphoinositide determinants for their subcellular localization. Several recent studies have suggested that small GTPases such as ARF family proteins play a role in defining PH domain localization. Some others have described a signalling role for PH domains in regulating small GTPases, although phosphoinositides may also play a role. These findings herald a change in our perspective of PH domain function, which will be significantly more diverse than previously supposed.

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