Article

Membrane lipids as signaling molecules.

National University of Singapore, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Department of Biochemistry and Department of Biological Sciences, Centre for Life Sciences, Singapore.
Current Opinion in Lipidology (Impact Factor: 5.8). 05/2007; 18(2):121-8. DOI: 10.1097/MOL.0b013e328082e4d5
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Membrane lipids play important roles in signaling reactions. They are involved in most if not all cellular signaling cascades and in a wide variety of tissue and cell types. The purpose of this review is to highlight major pathways of signaling originating in membrane lipids. Details of lipid metabolism, and its relation to protein function, will thus advance understanding of the role of lipids in health and disease.
Major classes of lipids including glycerophospholipids, their metabolites (eicosanoids, endocannabinoids), and sphingolipids have recently generated interest in the field of signal transduction. These lipids are tightly regulated and have an impact on various physiological functions. Importantly, aberrant lipid metabolism often leads to onset of pathology, and thus the precise balance of signaling lipids and their effectors can serve as biomarkers.
Membrane lipids form precursors for second messengers and functional assembly matrices on membrane domains during cellular stimulation. Many of these modifications are rapid reactions at lipid headgroups. Metabolism of the fatty acyl portion of membrane lipids leads to the generation of a bewildering complexity of lipid mediators with extended effects in space and time.

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