Sphingolipids, a lipid class characterized by a long-chain amino alcohol backbone, serve vital structural and signaling roles in eukaryotes. Though eukaryotes produce sphingolipids, this capacity is phylogenetically highly restricted in Bacteria. Intriguingly, bacterial species commonly associated in high abundance with eukaryotic hosts include sphingolipid producers, such as the Bacteroidetes in the mammalian gut. To date, a role for bacterial sphingolipids in immune system maturation has been described, but their fate and impact in host physiology and metabolism remain to be elucidated. The structural conservation of bacterial sphingolipids with those produced by their mammalian hosts offer clues about which aspects of mammalian biology may be modulated by these intriguing lipids.
Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Ltd.