Identification of the phytosphingosine metabolic pathway leading to odd-numbered fatty acids

Natsuki Kondo, Yusuke Ohno, Maki Yamagata, Takashi Obara, Naoya Seki, Takuya Kitamura, Tatsuro Naganuma, Akio Kihara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


The long-chain base phytosphingosine is a component of sphingolipids and exists in yeast, plants and some mammalian tissues. Phytosphingosine is unique in that it possesses an additional hydroxyl group compared with other long-chain bases. However, its metabolism is unknown. Here we show that phytosphingosine is metabolized to odd-numbered fatty acids and is incorporated into glycerophospholipids both in yeast and mammalian cells. Disruption of the yeast gene encoding long-chain base 1-phosphate lyase, which catalyzes the committed step in the metabolism of phytosphingosine to glycerophospholipids, causes an ~40% reduction in the level of phosphatidylcholines that contain a C15 fatty acid. We also find that 2-hydroxypalmitic acid is an intermediate of the phytosphingosine metabolic pathway. Furthermore, we show that the yeast MPO1 gene, whose product belongs to a large, conserved protein family of unknown function, is involved in phytosphingosine metabolism. Our findings provide insights into fatty acid diversity and identify a pathway by which hydroxyl group-containing lipids are metabolized.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5338
JournalNature communications
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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