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Review
, 74 (2), 101-39

Ether Lipids in Biomembranes

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Review

Ether Lipids in Biomembranes

F Paltauf. Chem Phys Lipids.

Abstract

Plasmalogens (1-O-1'-alkenyl-2-acylglycerophospholipids) and to a lesser extent the 1-O-alkyl analogs are ubiquitous and in some cases major constituents of mammalian cellular membranes and of anaerobic bacteria. In archaebacteria polar lipids of the cell envelope are either diphytanylglycerolipids or bipolar macrocyclic tetraether lipids capable of forming covalently linked 'bilayers'. Information on the possible role of ether lipids as membrane constituents has been obtained from studies on the biophysical properties of model membranes consisting of these lipids. In addition, effects of modified ether lipid content on properties of biological membranes have been investigated using microorganisms or mammalian cells which carry genetic defects in ether lipid biosynthesis. Differential utilization of ether glycerophospholipids by specific phospholipases might play a role in the generation of lipid mediators that are involved in signal transduction. A possible function of plasmalogens as antioxidants has been demonstrated with cultured cells and might play a role in serum lipoproteins. Synthetic ether lipid analogs exert cytostatic effects, most likely by interfering with membrane structure and by specific interaction with components of signal transmission pathways, such as phospholipase C and protein kinase C.

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