Phospholipases: An Overview

Methods Mol Biol. 2018;1835:69-105. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-8672-9_3.


Phospholipases are lipolytic enzymes that hydrolyze phospholipid substrates at specific ester bonds. Phospholipases are widespread in nature and play very diverse roles from aggression in snake venom to signal transduction, lipid mediator production, and metabolite digestion in humans. Phospholipases vary considerably in structure, function, regulation, and mode of action. Tremendous advances in understanding the structure and function of phospholipases have occurred in the last decades. This introductory chapter is aimed at providing a general framework of the current understanding of phospholipases and a discussion of their mechanisms of action and emerging biological functions.

Keywords: Classification; Phospholipase A1; Phospholipase A2; Phospholipase B; Phospholipase C; Phospholipase D; Phospholipases; Phospholipids; Physiological function.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • Intracellular Space / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Multigene Family
  • Phospholipases / chemistry
  • Phospholipases / classification
  • Phospholipases / genetics
  • Phospholipases / metabolism*
  • Phospholipids / metabolism


  • Phospholipids
  • Phospholipases