Plant sphingolipids today - Are they still enigmatic?

S. Spassieva, J. Hille

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Sphingolipids are a diverse group of lipids found in all eukaryotes and some bacteria, consisting of a hydrophobic ceramide and a hydrophilic head group. We have summarised the contemporary understanding of the structure of plant sphingolipids with an emphasis on glucosylceramides and inositolphosphorylceramides. Plant glucosylceramides are important structural components of plasma and vacuole membranes. Inositolphosphorylceramides have been identified as moieties of the glycosylphosphorylinositol (GPI) anchors of plant proteins targeted to the plasma membrane. In the last few years, progress has been made in the cloning of plant genes coding for enzymes involved in sphingolipid metabolism. As found in yeast and mammals, the plant sphingolipid pathway is a potential generator of powerful cell signals. The role of plant sphingolipid metabolites in programmed cell death and calcium influx is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-136
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2003


  • Ceramide
  • Membrane lipids
  • Plant GPI-anchored proteins
  • Plant sphingolipids
  • Sphingolipid signalling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


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