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J Lipid Res. 2009 Apr;50 Suppl:S91-6. doi: 10.1194/jlr.R800080-JLR200. Epub 2008 Nov 17.

Bioactive sphingolipids: metabolism and function.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Medical University of South Carolina, 173 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.


Sphingolipids (SLs) are essential constituents of eukaryotic cells. Besides playing structural roles in cellular membranes, some metabolites, including ceramide, sphingosine, and sphingosine-1-phosphate, have drawn attention as bioactive signaling molecules involved in the regulation of cell growth, differentiation, senescence, and apoptosis. Understanding the many cell regulatory functions of SL metabolites requires an advanced knowledge of how and where in the cell they are generated, converted, or degraded. This review will provide a short overview of the metabolism, localization, and compartmentalization of SLs. Also, a discussion on bioactive members of the SL family and inducers of SL enzymes that lead to ceramide generation will be presented.

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