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Phospholipids are complex lipids made up of fatty acids, alcohols, and phosphate. They are extremely important components of living cells, with both structural and metabolic roles. They are the chief constituents of most biological membranes. At one end of a phospholipid molecule is a phosphate group linked to an alcohol.
This is a polar part of the molecule — it has an electric charge and is water-soluble hydrophilic.
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At the other end of the molecule are fatty acids, which are non-polar, hydrophobic , fat soluble, and water insoluble. Because of the dual nature of the phospholipid molecules, with a water-soluble group attached to a water-insoluble group in the same molecule, they are called amphipathic or polar lipids.
The amphipathic nature of phospholipids make them ideal components of biological membranes, where they form a lipid bilayer with the polar region of each layer facing out to interact with water, and the non-polar fatty acid "tail" portions pointing inward toward each other in the interior of the bilayer. The lipid bilayer structure of cell membranes makes them nearly impermeable to polar molecules such as ions, but proteins embedded in the membrane are able to carry many substances through that they could not otherwise pass.
Phosphoglycerides, considered by some as synonymous for phospholipids, are structurally related to 3-phosphoglyceraldehyde PGA , an intermediate in the catabolic metabolism of glucose. Phosphoglycerides differ from phospholipids because they contain an alcohol rather than an aldehyde group on the 1-carbon. Fatty acids are attached by an ester linkage to one or both of the free hydroxyl -OH groups of the glyceride on carbons 1 and 2. Except in phosphatidic acid, the simplest of all phosphoglycerides, the phosphate attached to the 3-carbon of the glyceride is also linked to another alcohol.
The nature of this alcohol varies considerably.
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See also Bacteremic; Bacterial growth and division; Bacterial membranes and cell wall; Bacterial surface layers; Bacterial ultrastructure; Biochemistry; Cell membrane transport; Membrane fluidity. The resulting compound called phosphatidic acid contains a region the fatty acid component that is fat-soluble along with a region the charged phosphate group that is water-soluble.
Most phospholipids also have an additional chemical group bound to the phosphate. For example, it may be connected with choline; the resulting phospholipid is called phosphatidylcholine, or lecithin.
Other phospholipids include phosphatidylglycerol, phosphatidylinositol, phosphatidylserine, and phosphatidylethanolamine. The bipolar character of phospholipids is essential to their biological function in cell membranes. Related Information. Close Figure Viewer.
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Password Changed Successfully Your password has been changed. Returning user. Request Username Can't sign in? Forgot your username? Enter your email address below and we will send you your username. Table S1. Phospholipid species of camelina, flaxseed, hemp, sesame and walnut, obtained by shotgun, reverse phase and normal phase liquid chromatography mass spectrometry.
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