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A bacterial light response reveals an orphan desaturase for human plasmalogen synthesis

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Science  04 Oct 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6461, pp. 128-132
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay1436

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Distant cousin helps spot animal enzyme

In addition to forming the membranes that enclose cells, lipids are important signaling molecules. Plasmalogens, which contain a vinyl ether linkage, are an abundant group of lipids in animals. How these lipids are synthesized from precursors with an alkyl ether linkage has been a mystery. Gallego-García et al. found an enzyme, CarF, in the social bacterium Myxococcus xanthus that produces plasmalogens used in a signaling pathway for singlet oxygen, a marker of photooxidative stress. They then showed that the animal homolog could catalyze the final step in plasmalogen synthesis in bacterial and human cells, thus resolving a source for plasmalogens in animals.

Science, this issue p. 128

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