PerspectiveCell Biology

Anatomy of Prostaglandin Signals

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Science  11 Nov 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6057, pp. 768-769
DOI: 10.1126/science.1215389

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Membrane metabolism generates many lipid signals that regulate diverse cellular processes. Although most membrane-metabolizing enzymes are specific to one lipid family, some act on a range of substrates and produce lipid signals with different bioactivities. These multisubstrate enzymes act as nodes that can change the flow of information carried by the lipid signaling network by, for example, boosting the production of one family of lipids while dampening that of another. On page 809 of this issue, Nomura et al. (1) show that the enzyme monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) (2) is a critical node within the lipid signaling network, coordinating the brain's defense mechanism to neurodegeneration. They also show that inhibiting MAGL prevents neurodegeneration and chronic neuroinflammation in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease, opening a new potential avenue for treating neurodegenerative diseases.