Amino acid-containing membrane lipids in bacteria

Prog Lipid Res. 2010 Jan;49(1):46-60. doi: 10.1016/j.plipres.2009.08.002. Epub 2009 Aug 22.


In the bacterial model organism Escherichia coli only the three major membrane lipids phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylglycerol, and cardiolipin occur, all of which belong to the glycerophospholipids. The amino acid-containing phosphatidylserine is a major lipid in eukaryotic membranes but in most bacteria it occurs only as a minor biosynthetic intermediate. In some bacteria, the anionic glycerophospholipids phosphatidylglycerol and cardiolipin can be decorated with aminoacyl residues. For example, phosphatidylglycerol can be decorated with lysine, alanine, or arginine whereas in the case of cardiolipin, lysine or d-alanine modifications are known. In few bacteria, diacylglycerol-derived lipids can be substituted with lysine or homoserine. Acyl-oxyacyl lipids in which the lipidic part is amide-linked to the alpha-amino group of an amino acid are widely distributed among bacteria and ornithine-containing lipids are the most common version of this lipid type. Only few bacterial groups form glycine-containing lipids, serineglycine-containing lipids, sphingolipids, or sulfonolipids. Although many of these amino acid-containing bacterial membrane lipids are produced in response to certain stress conditions, little is known about the specific molecular functions of these lipids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Bacteria / enzymology
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Cardiolipins / biosynthesis
  • Cardiolipins / metabolism
  • Diglycerides / biosynthesis
  • Diglycerides / metabolism
  • Glycerophospholipids / biosynthesis
  • Glycerophospholipids / metabolism
  • Membrane Lipids / biosynthesis
  • Membrane Lipids / chemistry
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism*
  • Phosphatidylglycerols / biosynthesis
  • Phosphatidylglycerols / metabolism
  • Serine C-Palmitoyltransferase / classification
  • Serine C-Palmitoyltransferase / metabolism
  • Sphingolipids / biosynthesis
  • Sphingolipids / metabolism


  • Amino Acids
  • Cardiolipins
  • Diglycerides
  • Glycerophospholipids
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Phosphatidylglycerols
  • Sphingolipids
  • Serine C-Palmitoyltransferase