The sphingolipidome is the portion of the lipidome that encompasses all sphingoid bases and their derivatives. Whereas the most studied sphingoid base is sphingosine [(2S,3R,4E)-2-aminooctadecene-1,3-diol], mammals have dozens of structural variants, and hundreds of additional types have been found in other eukaryotic organisms and some bacteria and viruses. Multiplying these figures by the N-acyl-derivatives (“ceramides”) and the more than 500 phospho- and glyco- headgroups places the number of discrete molecular species in the tens of thousands or higher. Structure-specific, quantitative information about a growing fraction of the sphingolipidome can now be obtained using various types of chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry, and application of these methods is producing many surprises regarding sphingolipid structure, metabolism, and function. Such large data sets can be difficult to interpret, but the development of tools that display results from genomic and lipidomic studies in a pathway relational, nodal, context can make it easier for investigators to deal with this complexity
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