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Annu Rev Genet. 2014;48:119-48. doi: 10.1146/annurev-genet-041814-095928. Epub 2014 Aug 25.

Exploring developmental and physiological functions of fatty acid and lipid variants through worm and fly genetics.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309; email:


Lipids are more than biomolecules for energy storage and membrane structure. With ample structural variation, lipids critically participate in nearly all aspects of cellular function. Lipid homeostasis and metabolism are closely related to major human diseases and health problems. However, lipid functional studies have been significantly underdeveloped, partly because of the difficulty in applying genetics and common molecular approaches to tackle the complexity associated with lipid biosynthesis, metabolism, and function. In the past decade, a number of laboratories began to analyze the roles of lipid metabolism in development and other physiological functions using animal models and combining genetics, genomics, and biochemical approaches. These pioneering efforts have not only provided valuable insights regarding lipid functions in vivo but have also established feasible methodology for future studies. Here, we review a subset of these studies using Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster.


Caenorhabditis elegans; Drosophila; cell signaling; disease; human; lipid biology; metabolism

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