Phospholipases: An Overview

Methods Mol Biol. 2012;861:63-85. doi: 10.1007/978-1-61779-600-5_4.


Phospholipids are present in all living organisms. They are a major component of all biological membranes, along with glycolipids and cholesterol. Enzymes aimed at cleaving the various bonds in phospholipids, namely phospholipases, are consequently widespread in nature, playing very diverse roles from aggression in snake venom to signal transduction, lipid mediators production, and digestion in humans. Although all phospholipases target phospholipids as substrates, they vary in the site of action on the phospholipids molecules, physiological function, mode of action, and their regulation. Significant studies on phospholipases characterization, physiological role, and industrial potential have been conducted worldwide. Some of them have been directed for biotechnological advances, such as gene discovery and functional enhancement by protein engineering. Others reported phospholipases as virulence factors and major causes of pathophysiological effects. In this introductory chapter, we provide brief details of different phospholipases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotechnology / methods*
  • Eukaryotic Cells / enzymology
  • Humans
  • Phospholipases* / chemistry
  • Phospholipases* / classification
  • Phospholipases* / metabolism
  • Phospholipids / metabolism*
  • Prokaryotic Cells / enzymology
  • Protein Engineering
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Phospholipids
  • Phospholipases