Functional analysis of mammalian phospholipase D enzymes

Biosci Rep. 2018 Dec 7;38(6):BSR20181690. doi: 10.1042/BSR20181690. Print 2018 Dec 21.


Phosphatidylcholine (PC)-specific phospholipase D (PLD) hydrolyzes the phosphodiester bond of the PC to generate phosphatidic acid (PA) and regulates several subcellular functions. Mammalian genomes contain two genes encoding distinct isoforms of PLD in contrast with invertebrate genomes that include a single PLD gene. However, the significance of two genes within a genome encoding the same biochemical activity remains unclear. Recently, loss of function in the only PLD gene in Drosophila was reported to result in reduced PA levels and a PA-dependent collapse of the photoreceptor plasma membrane due to defects in vesicular transport. Phylogenetic analysis reveals that human PLD1 (hPLD1) is evolutionarily closer to dPLD than human PLD2 (hPLD2). In the present study, we expressed hPLD1 and hPLD2 in Drosophila and found that while reconstitution of hPLD1 is able to completely rescue retinal degeneration in a loss of function dPLD mutant, hPLD2 was less effective in its ability to mediate a rescue. Using a newly developed analytical method, we determined the acyl chain composition of PA species produced by each enzyme. While dPLD was able to restore the levels of most PA species in dPLD3.1 cells, hPLD1 and hPLD2 each were unable to restore the levels of a subset of unique species of PA. Finally, we found that in contrast with hPLD2, dPLD and hPLD1 are uniquely distributed to the subplasma membrane region in photoreceptors. In summary, hPLD1 likely represents the ancestral PLD in mammalian genomes while hPLD2 represents neofunctionalization to generate PA at distinct subcellular membranes.

Keywords: Drosophila; lipids; mass spectrometry; membranes; phospholipase D.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Drosophila
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Loss of Function Mutation*
  • Phospholipase D / analysis
  • Phospholipase D / genetics*
  • Phospholipase D / metabolism
  • Phylogeny
  • Retinal Degeneration / genetics*
  • Retinal Degeneration / metabolism
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Transgenes


  • phospholipase D2
  • Phospholipase D
  • phospholipase D1