Metabolism and Roles of Sphingolipids in Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Sphingolipids are major membrane components of all eukaryotic cells. They are also important bioactive molecules involved in a plethora of essential cellular processes that are implicated in various human diseases. Most bioactive sphingolipids also serve as intermediate products of the sphingolipid metabolic network. It is thus critical to understand sphingolipid metabolic pathways in order to dissect sphingolipid function at single-species level. Here, we review in detail the biosynthetic and degradation pathways of sphingolipids in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a model organism whose sphingolipid composition is rather simple but with conserved metabolic pathways and regulation mechanisms as higher eukaryotes. The functions of yeast sphingoid bases, ceramides, and complex sphingolipids are also discussed. Together, this knowledge provides a foundation to understand sphingolipid metabolism, their physiological roles, their potential as therapeutic targets for human diseases, and the major challenges the field is facing.
The authors would like to acknowledge Drs. Cungui Mao, Christopher Clarke, and Cosima Rhein for their critical discussions and valuable comments. Work related to this review in Dr. Hannun’s laboratory was supported by grant R35 GM118128.
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