LIPID Arrays: New Tools in the Understanding of Membrane Dynamics and Lipid Signaling

  1. Pavlina T. Ivanova,
  2. Stephen B. Milne,
  3. Jeffrey S. Forrester and
  4. H. Alex Brown
  1. Department of Pharmacology and the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN 37232
  1. Address correspondence to HAB. E-mail alex.brown{at}; fax 615-343-6532.


Phospholipids are the structural building blocks of the membrane bilayer, which retains and regulates intra-cellular content. In addition to creating a protective barrier around the cell, lipids modulate membrane trafficking and are themselves precursors of important intracellular signaling molecules. Identification and quantification of these molecular species is essential for a more complete understanding of cell signaling pathways, and more reliable and sensitive methods are needed for determining membrane phospholipid content. Recent improvements in electrospray ionization mass spectrometry have made possible the direct identification of more than 400 phospholipid species from biological extracts of a single cell type. Changes in the cellular concentration of diverse lipids can be determined by analysis of the mass spectra by statistical algorithms. In the future, lipid arrays will be integrated with other high-throughput profiling technologies, and computational lipidomics will expand our understanding of the molecular basis of cellular processes and diseases.


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