Related topics: cells · cell membrane · protein · diabetes · heart disease

Nanobowls serve up chemotherapy drugs to cancer cells

For decades, scientists have explored the use of liposomes—hollow spheres made of lipid bilayers—to deliver chemotherapy drugs to tumor cells. But drugs can sometimes leak out of liposomes before they reach their destination, ...

Determining the quantity and location of lipids in the brain

Researchers at the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a new technique that can determine the specific molecular form, location, and the amount of lipids in samples of rat brain ...

What limits the ability of plants to draw water from dry soil?

What limits the ability of plants to draw water from dry soil? That's the question California State University, Fullerton plant biologist H. Jochen Schenk and his collaborators addressed in a study supported by the National ...

First simulation of a full-sized mitochondrial membrane

Scientists from the University of Groningen have developed a method that combines different resolution levels in a computer simulation of biological membranes. Their algorithm backmaps a large-scale model that includes features ...

Copper boosts pig growth, and now we know why

Pigs have better feed conversion rates with copper in their diets, but until now, scientists didn't fully understand why. Existing research from the University of Illinois shows copper doesn't change fat and energy absorption ...

'Shark molecule' protects cholesterol enzyme from destruction

A team of scientists have shown in cell lines that a key cholesterol synthesis enzyme—squalene monooxygenase (SM) – is controlled by the levels of its target molecule, squalene. The findings, published in international ...

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Lipid

Lipids are a broad group of naturally-occurring molecules which includes fats, waxes, sterols, fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A, D, E and K), monoglycerides, diglycerides, phospholipids, and others. The main biological functions of lipids include energy storage, as structural components of cell membranes, and as important signaling molecules.

Lipids may be broadly defined as hydrophobic or amphiphilic small molecules; the amphiphilic nature of some lipids allows them to form structures such as vesicles, liposomes, or membranes in an aqueous environment. Biological lipids originate entirely or in part from two distinct types of biochemical subunits or "building blocks": ketoacyl and isoprene groups. Using this approach, lipids may be divided into eight categories: fatty acyls, glycerolipids, glycerophospholipids, sphingolipids, saccharolipids and polyketides (derived from condensation of ketoacyl subunits); and sterol lipids and prenol lipids (derived from condensation of isoprene subunits).

Although the term lipid is sometimes used as a synonym for fats, fats are a subgroup of lipids called triglycerides. Lipids also encompass molecules such as fatty acids and their derivatives (including tri-, di-, and monoglycerides and phospholipids), as well as other sterol-containing metabolites such as cholesterol. Although humans and other mammals use various biosynthetic pathways to both break down and synthesize lipids, some essential lipids cannot be made this way and must be obtained from the diet.

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