Role of Sphingolipids in Bacterial Infections

  • Katrin Anne Becker
  • Ryan Boudreau
  • Aaron Gardner
  • Aaron P. Seitz
  • Charles C. Caldwell
  • Xiang Li
  • Yang Zhang
  • Malcolm Brodlie
  • Michael J. Edwards
  • Erich GulbinsEmail author
Living reference work entry
Part of the Handbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology book series (HHLM)


Lipids play a very important role in the infection of mammalian cells by different pathogens. Sphingolipids have been shown by numerous recent studies to possess a particularly essential role in infectious biology. Sphingolipids such as sphingomyelin, ceramide, and sphingosine organize cell membranes into distinct domains, called rafts that are enriched with sphingolipids and cholesterol. The generation of ceramide within the cell membrane results in the formation of large ceramide-enriched membrane platforms that serve the temporal and spatial organization of the cellular signaling machinery. Ceramide-enriched membrane platforms have critical functions for bacterial and viral infections. In addition, ceramide and sphingosine regulate the functions of enzymes, receptors, and organelles such as lysosomes, and therefore contribute to the control of the cellular response to pathogens. Finally, at least sphingosine has a direct antibacterial effect against many pathogens. Here, we present the diverse functions of sphingolipids in infectious biology and discuss mechanisms of their actions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katrin Anne Becker
    • 1
  • Ryan Boudreau
    • 2
  • Aaron Gardner
    • 3
  • Aaron P. Seitz
    • 2
  • Charles C. Caldwell
    • 2
  • Xiang Li
    • 4
  • Yang Zhang
    • 4
  • Malcolm Brodlie
    • 3
  • Michael J. Edwards
    • 2
  • Erich Gulbins
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Molecular BiologyUniversity Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-EssenEssenGermany
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Cellular MedicineNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK
  4. 4.Department of Pharmacological & Pharmaceutical SciencesCollege of Pharmacy University of HoustonHoustonUSA

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