Due to its genetic tractability and increasing wealth of accessible data, the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a model system of choice for the study of the genetics, biochemistry, and cell biology of eukaryotic lipid metabolism. Glycerolipids (e.g., phospholipids and triacylglycerol) and their precursors are synthesized and metabolized by enzymes associated with the cytosol and membranous organelles, including endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria, and lipid droplets. Genetic and biochemical analyses have revealed that glycerolipids play important roles in cell signaling, membrane trafficking, and anchoring of membrane proteins in addition to membrane structure. The expression of glycerolipid enzymes is controlled by a variety of conditions including growth stage and nutrient availability. Much of this regulation occurs at the transcriptional level and involves the Ino2-Ino4 activation complex and the Opi1 repressor, which interacts with Ino2 to attenuate transcriptional activation of UAS INO-containing glycerolipid biosynthetic genes. Cellular levels of phosphatidic acid, precursor to all membrane phospholipids and the storage lipid triacylglycerol, regulates transcription of UAS INO-containing genes by tethering Opi1 to the nuclear/endoplasmic reticulum membrane and controlling itstranslocation into the nucleus, a mechanism largely controlled by inositol availability. The transcriptional activator Zap1 controls the expression of some phospholipid synthesis genes in response to zinc availability. Regulatory mechanisms also include control of catalytic activity of glycerolipid enzymes by water-soluble precursors, products and lipids, and covalent modification of phosphorylation, while in vivo function of some enzymes is governed by their subcellular location. Genome-wide genetic analysis indicates coordinate regulation between glycerolipid metabolism and a broad spectrum of metabolic pathways.
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