Ornithine Lipids and Other Amino Acid-Containing Acyloxyacyl Lipids

  • Christian Sohlenkamp
Reference work entry
Part of the Handbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology book series (HHLM)


Ornithine lipids (OLs) are phosphorus-free membrane lipids relatively common in eubacteria, but apparently absent from archaea and eukaryotes. It has been predicted that about 50% of the sequenced bacterial species have the capacity to synthesize OLs at least under certain growth conditions. Structurally, they are composed of a 3-hydroxy fatty acid amide bound to the α-amino group of ornithine and of a second fatty acyl group ester linked to the 3-hydroxy position of the first fatty acid forming an acyloxyacyl structure. This basic structure of OLs can be modified by hydroxylations in different positions, by N-methylation, or by taurine transfer. The presence of OL and/or modified OLs often seems to form part of a stress response to (changing) environmental conditions. OL modification allows the bacteria to adjust membrane properties by converting already existing membrane lipids into membrane lipids with distinct properties without de novo synthesis. In addition to ornithine, other amino acids (and dipeptides) such as glycine, serineglycine, glutamine, and lysine have been described as headgroups of these lipids in some bacterial species.



Work in the laboratory was supported by grants to C.S. from SEP-CONACyT (237713) and PAPIIT-UNAM (IN202413, IN208116).


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Ciencias GenómicasUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCuernavacaMexico

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