For the first time, scientists have described not only the identities and quantities of fat species in a living mammalian cell in this case, a mouse macrophage or white blood cell but they also report how these lipids react and change over time to a bacterial stimulus triggering the cell's immune response.
Writing in the December 17 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, lead author Edward A. Dennis, PhD, distinguished professor of pharmacology, chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, said the work culminates more than seven years of effort by scientists in LIPID MAPS, a national consortium of 12 research laboratories at nine "core" universities, medical research institutes and life sciences companies collaborating to study the structure and function of lipids. UC San Diego serves as lead institution and information clearinghouse. Dennis is principal investigator.
"This paper is the essence of what we originally proposed," said Dennis. "This is our big, initial study, though we've published many other papers and have more in the pipeline." All nine core facilities in LIPID MAPS participated in the study.
Until relatively recently, lipid research has not received the same degree of attention as, say, genes or proteins. But fats are indisputably crucial to cell operations and overall health. Lipids represent major structural and metabolic components of cells and perform essential functions, such as membrane construction, energy production and intracellular communications.
"They're also a key in virtually all diseases," said Dennis. "Any condition involving inflammation involves lipids. It's hard to think of a disease, including cancer, in which lipids don't play some role."
Likewise for the subject of the research: the mouse macrophage.
"It would have been simpler to do this with yeast or bacteria," said Dennis, "but the macrophage is found
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University of California - San Diego