Phospholipid methylation and biological signal transmission

Science  05 Sep 1980:
Vol. 209, Issue 4461, pp. 1082-1090
DOI: 10.1126/science.6157192


Many types of cells methylate phospholipids using two methyltransferase enzymes that are asymmetrically distributed in membranes. As the phospholipids are successively methylated, they are translocated from the inside to the outside of the membrane. When catecholamine neurotransmitters, lectins, immunoglobulins or chemotaxic peptides bind to the cell surface, they stimulate the methyltransferase enzymes and reduce membrane viscosity. The methylation of phospholipids is coupled to Ca2+ influx and the release of arachidonic acid, lysophosphatidylcholine, and prostaglandins. These closely associated biochemical changes facilitate the transmission of many signals through membranes, resulting in the generation of adenosine 3',5'-monophophate in many cell types, release of histamine in mast cells and basophils, mitogenesis in lymphocytes, and chemotaxis in neutrophils.

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