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Keywords:

  • lipid asymmetry;
  • lipid rafts;
  • lipid translocators;
  • membrane lipids;
  • sphingolipids

The cellular lipidome comprises over 1000 different lipids. Most lipids look similar having a polar head and hydrophobic tails. Still, cells recognize lipids with exquisite specificity. The functionality of lipids is determined by their local concentration, which varies between organelles, between the two leaflets of the lipid bilayer and even within the lateral plane of the membrane. To incorporate function, cellular lipidomics must not only determine which lipids are present but also the concentration of each lipid at each specific intracellular location in time and the lipid's interaction partners. Moreover, cellular lipidomics must include the enzymes of lipid metabolism and transport, their specificity, localization and regulation. Finally, it requires a thorough understanding of the physical properties of lipids and membranes, especially lipid–lipid and lipid–protein interactions. In the context of a cell, the complex relationships between metabolites can only be understood by viewing them as an integrated system. Cellular lipidomics provides a framework for understanding and manipulating the vital role of lipids, especially in membrane transport and sorting and in cell signaling.