Phosphatidic acid – a simple phospholipid with multiple faces

  • Jolanta Zegarlinska University of Wroclaw, Faculty of Biotechnology, Department of Cytobiochemistry
  • Magda Piaścik University of Wroclaw, Faculty of Biotechnology, Department of Cytobiochemistry
  • Aleksander F Sikorski University of Wroclaw, Faculty of Biotechnology, Department of Cytobiochemistry
  • Aleksander Czogalla University of Wroclaw, Faculty of Biotechnology, Department of Cytobiochemistry
Keywords: phosphatidic acid, protein-lipid interaction, signaling, membrane curvature, membrane model systems


Phosphatidic acid (PA) is the simplest glycerophospholipid naturally occurring in living organisms, and even though its content among other cellular lipids is minor, it is drawing more and more attention due to its multiple biological functions. PA is a precursor for other phospholipids, acts as a lipid second messenger and, due to its structural properties, is also a modulator of membrane shape. Although much is known about interaction of PA with its effectors, the molecular mechanisms remain unresolved to a large degree. Throughout many of the well-characterized PA cellular sensors, no conserved binding domain can be recognized. Moreover, not much is known about the cellular dynamics of PA and how it is distributed among subcellular compartments. Remarkably, PA can play distinct roles within each of these compartments. For example, in the nucleus it behaves as a mitogen, influencing gene expression regulation, and in the Golgi membrane it plays a role in membrane trafficking. Here we discuss how a biophysical experimental approach enabled PA behavior to be described in the context of a lipid bilayer and to what extent various physicochemical conditions may modulate the functional properties of the lipid. Understanding these aspects would help to unravel specific mechanisms of PA-driven membrane transformation and protein recruitment and thus would lead to a clearer picture of the biological role of PA.


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