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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1999 Jan 6;1426(2):347-57.

Yeast sphingolipids.

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Department of Biochemistry and the Lucille P. Markey Cancer Center, University of Kentucky Medical Center, Lexington, KY 40536-0084, USA.


Many advances in our understanding of fungal sphingolipids have been made in recent years. This review focuses on the types of sphingolipids that have been found in fungi and upon the genes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the common baker's yeast, that are necessary for sphingolipid metabolism. While only a small number of fungi have been examined, most contain sphingolipids composed of ceramide derivatized at carbon-1 with inositol phosphate. Further additions include mannose and then other carbohydrates. The second major class of fungal sphingolipids is the glycosylceramides, having either glucose or galactose attached to ceramide rather than inositol phosphate. The glycosylceramides sometimes contain additional carbohydrates. Knowledge of the genome sequence has expedited identification of S. cerevisiae genes necessary for sphingolipid metabolism. At least one gene is known for most steps in S. cerevisiae sphingolipid metabolism, but more are likely to be identified so that the 13 known genes are likely to grow in number. The AUR1 gene is necessary for addition of inositol phosphate to ceramide and has been identified as a target of several potent antifungal compounds. This essential step in yeast sphingolipid synthesis, which is not found in humans, appears to be an excellent target for the development of more effective antifungal compounds, both for human and for agricultural use.

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