The music of lipids: How lipid composition orchestrates cellular behaviour.

Author: Schug ZT, Frezza C, Galbraith LC, Gottlieb E.
Laboratory of Apoptosis and Tumour Metabolism, Cancer Research UK, The Beatson Institute for Cancer Research , Glasgow G61 1BD , UK.
Conference/Journal: Acta Oncol.
Date published: 2012 Jan 30
Other: Word Count: 263

Background. Lipids are best known for their fundamental role in forming biological membranes and as intracellular signalling molecules. Interactions between proteins and lipids are central to nearly every cellular process yet these crucial relationships often go overlooked. Changes or switches in the lipid profile of a cell drastically affects cellular metabolism and signal transduction. In relationship to cancer, upregulation of lipid metabolism is often observed during the early stages of neoplasia and is a recognised hallmark of many types of cancer. Methods. We performed a comprehensive review of the literature using PubMed regarding lipid metabolism in cancer and the importance of protein-lipid interactions in the function of mitochondria. Results. An increase in the basal rate of de novo lipogenesis generates a substantial rise in the saturated fatty acid content of cellular membranes. The ensuing alteration in the acyl chain profile of phospholipids has severe consequences on the function of organelles and membrane-bound proteins, and result in a host of pathologies including the cardiac disorder Barth Syndrome. Conclusions. Although increased lipogenesis is specifically selected for during cellular transformation it remains unclear if it confers an advantage for survival or is a byproduct of more global changes in cellular metabolism. We discuss the current data regarding the potential of targeting the lipogenic switch as a cancer therapy. In addition, we describe the importance of mitochondrial phospholipid composition during a number mitochondria-driven events observed to have roles in cancer. We specifically highlight the function of cardiolipin in maintaining mitochondrial structure, regulating mitochondrial dynamics and bioenergetics as well as its contributions to mitophagy/autophagy and apoptosis.
PMID: 22283492