Plant sphingolipids are structurally diverse molecules that are important as membrane components and bioactive molecules. An appreciation of the relationship between structural diversity and functional significance of plant sphingolipids is emerging through characterization of Arabidopsis mutants coupled with advanced analytical methods. It is increasingly apparent that modifications such as hydroxylation and desaturation of the sphingolipid nonpolar long-chain bases and fatty acids influence their metabolic routing to particular complex sphingolipid classes and their functions in signaling pathways and other cellular processes, such as membrane protein targeting. Here, we review recent reports investigating some of the more prevalent sphingolipid structural modifications and their functional importance in plants.
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