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Trends Biochem Sci. 2007 Oct;32(10):457-68.

(Glyco)sphingolipidology: an amazing challenge and opportunity for systems biology.

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School of Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, The Wallace H Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA.


Sphingolipids are found in essentially all eukaryotes and in some prokaryotes and viruses, where they influence cell structure, signaling and interactions with the extracellular environment. Because of the combinatorial nature of their biosynthesis, the sphingolipidome comprises untold thousands of species that encompass bioactive backbones and complex phospho- and glycolipids. Mass spectrometry is able to analyze a growing fraction of the sphingolipidome and is beginning to provide information about localization. Use of these structure specific, quantitative methods is producing insights, and surprises, regarding sphingolipid structure, metabolism, function and disease. Dealing with such large data sets poses special challenges for systems biology, but the intrinsic and elegant interrelationships among these compounds might provide a key to dealing with the complexity of the sphingolipidome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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