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Biochem J. 2008 Jan 1;409(1):1-18.

Diacylglycerol kinases: at the hub of cell signalling.

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  • 1Department of Immunology and Oncology, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología/CSIC, Darwin, 3, UAM Campus Cantoblanco, E-28049 Madrid, Spain.


DGKs (diacylglycerol kinases) are members of a unique and conserved family of intracellular lipid kinases that phosphorylate DAG (diacylglycerol), catalysing its conversion into PA (phosphatidic acid). This reaction leads to attenuation of DAG levels in the cell membrane, regulating a host of intracellular signalling proteins that have evolved the ability to bind this lipid. The product of the DGK reaction, PA, is also linked to the regulation of diverse functions, including cell growth, membrane trafficking, differentiation and migration. In multicellular eukaryotes, DGKs provide a link between lipid metabolism and signalling. Genetic experiments in Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila melanogaster and mice have started to unveil the role of members of this protein family as modulators of receptor-dependent responses in processes such as synaptic transmission and photoreceptor transduction, as well as acquired and innate immune responses. Recent discoveries provide new insights into the complex mechanisms controlling DGK activation and their participation in receptor-regulated processes. After more than 50 years of intense research, the DGK pathway emerges as a key player in the regulation of cell responses, offering new possibilities of therapeutic intervention in human pathologies, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, brain afflictions and immune dysfunctions.

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