Product Spotlight: Photoswitchable Lipids

Posted on December 10, 2020

Adobe Stock 251932449

Lipids as Signaling Molecules

Until recently lipidomics has been overshadowed by advancements in proteomics and genomics technologies. Research related to lipidome analysis over the last several years has given a greater insight and understanding of the roles that lipids play in biochemistry. Lipids are no longer known just as components of membranes or sources of energy storage, but also as key participants in signaling cascades and transmembrane protein modulation. This understanding has increased the need for methods and techniques used to probe the cellular functions of lipids.

The Need for Photoswitchable Lipids

Methods that have been used to probe the cellular functions of lipids include manipulation of lipid pools via chemical dimerizers and optogenic approaches and using caged lipids equipped with a photo-labile protecting group that blocks biological activity until a flash of light releases the active lipid. Manipulation of lipid pools is a slow process and is usually restricted to soluble lipid-metabolic enzymes or transfer proteins. Caged lipids are highly targeted; however, release of the active lipid is not a reversible process. To bypass some of these issues azobenzene containing lipids have been used as photoswitchable lipids. Using lipids with an azobenzene moiety gives researchers the activation speed of caged lipids, but also allows for the translation of optical stimuli into a reversible cellular response. This methodology has been successfully used to directly activate Vanilloid Receptor 1 and other protein-lipid interactions related to the control of biological functions.

Avanti offers several photoswitchable lipids that can be used to study a wide variety of biological processes. These lipids include photoswitchable sphingosine, lysophosphatidic acid, fatty acid mimetics, phosphatidylcholine, ceramide, and diacylgycerol. If you’re interested in studying the role that lipids play in the control of biological functions click the link below and read about the photoswitchable lipids that Avanti has to offer!

Frank, J., Moroni, M., Moshourab, R. et al. Photoswitchable fatty acids enable optical control of TRPV1. Nat Commun 6, 7118 (2015). Kol, M., Williams, B., Toombs-Ruane, H., et al. Optical Manipulation of sphingolipid biosynthesis using photoswitchable ceramides. eLife 2019;8:e43230 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.43230