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  1. Dennis E. Vance

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/3527600906.mcb.200300181

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

How to Cite

Vance, D. E. 2006. Phospholipids. Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine. .

Author Information

  1. University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


Phospholipids are biological compounds that contain phosphorus and have both hydrophobic and hydrophilic moieties. They are ubiquitous components of all biological membranes. Phospholipids provide the basic structure and the permeability barriers of cellular membranes. The absolute requirement for phospholipids in life is underscored by the apparent lack in animals of gene mutations in phospholipid biosynthesis. Such mutations would result in severely defective enzyme activities and would probably be lethal. Phospholipids also act as sources for cellular second messengers such as diacylglycerol and inositol-trisphosphate. Phospholipids are made within each cell from precursors that include fatty acids, glycerol, CTP, ATP, and compounds that contain a free hydroxyl group such as ethanolamine, choline, glycerol, inositol, or serine. The phospholipids are made by biosynthetic enzymes and degraded by phospholipases. Many of the genes for these enzymes from Escherichia coli , yeast, mice, and humans have been cloned and characterized. Recent progress in the targeting of murine genes encoding several phospholipids by biosynthetic enzymes has provided insight into the function of these genes.


  • Arachidonic Acid;
  • Diacylglycerol;
  • Inositol-trisphosphate;
  • Phosphatidylcholine;
  • Platelet-activating Factor;
  • Protein Kinase;
  • Second Messenger