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Open Biol. 2017 May;7(5). pii: 170069. doi: 10.1098/rsob.170069.

Sphingolipids: membrane microdomains in brain development, function and neurological diseases.

Author information

1
Villum Center for Bioanalytical Sciences, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Southern Denmark, 5230 Odense M, Denmark.
2
Villum Center for Bioanalytical Sciences, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Southern Denmark, 5230 Odense M, Denmark nils.f@bmb.sdu.dk.

Abstract

Sphingolipids are highly enriched in the nervous system where they are pivotal constituents of the plasma membranes and are important for proper brain development and functions. Sphingolipids are not merely structural elements, but are also recognized as regulators of cellular events by their ability to form microdomains in the plasma membrane. The significance of such compartmentalization spans broadly from being involved in differentiation of neurons and synaptic transmission to neuronal-glial interactions and myelin stability. Thus, perturbations of the sphingolipid metabolism can lead to rearrangements in the plasma membrane, which has been linked to the development of various neurological diseases. Studying microdomains and their functions has for a long time been synonymous with studying the role of cholesterol. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that microdomains are very heterogeneous, which among others can be ascribed to the vast number of sphingolipids. In this review, we discuss the importance of microdomains with emphasis on sphingolipids in brain development and function as well as how disruption of the sphingolipid metabolism (and hence microdomains) contributes to the pathogenesis of several neurological diseases.

KEYWORDS:

brain; ganglioside; membrane microdomain; neurological disease; raft; sphingolipid

PMID:
28566300
PMCID:
PMC5451547
DOI:
10.1098/rsob.170069
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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