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The Multiple Structural, Physiological, and Biochemical Roles of Fatty Acids

A special issue of Molecules (ISSN 1420-3049). This special issue belongs to the section "Chemical Biology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2024 | Viewed by 7307

Special Issue Editors


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iBB – Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences, Department of Bioengineering, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: bacterial adaptation; marine biotechnology; biocatalysis; bioreactors; bioprocess engineering
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cE3c – Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: aquatic food webs; fatty acid bioconversion; lipid metabolism; carotenoids; metabolomics; breast cancer metabolism
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Guest Editor
Department of Biological Sciences, Fordham University, New York, NY, USA
Interests: comparative biochemistry; ecological biochemistry; physiological ecology
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Fatty acids (FAs) are especially suitable as tools to examine processes that range from the cellular to organismal levels of organization. Lipids comprise a large group of chemically heterogeneous compounds, the majority of which include esters of FAs as part of their structure. FAs thus represent the “building blocks” of many lipid classes and are the largest constituent of neutral lipids, such as triacylglycerols (TAGs) and wax esters (WEs), that have both energy storage and structural functions. FAs are also part of the polar phospholipids, which are important structural components of cellular membranes. Free FAs (FFAs) can be used directly for energy production through beta-oxidation whilst there are indications that some polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have nutritionally stabilizing functions. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are precursors to eicosanoid signaling molecules such as prostaglandins prostacyclins, thromboxanes and leukotrienes. FA derived metabolites (e.g., oxylipins) may also mediate chemical interactions controlling herbivory patterns and the reproduction of aquatic organisms with implications for the functioning of aquatic food webs.

Studies on FAs and their metabolism are important in several research fields including, biology, microbiology, ecology, physiology, and oncology. Specific FA types and their ratios in the cellular membranes of organisms may be used as biomarkers to aid in the identification of organisms, food web connections, or to study the adaptation of bacterial cells to toxic compounds or environmental conditions. Specialized plasma membrane lipids allow bacteria and archaea to live under extreme conditions, such as those found in abyssal marine trenches or hot vents, where they form the base of the local food web. The ability exhibited by actinomycetes to thrive under conditions fatal to other bacteria is ascribed to the presence of mycolic acids (a group of long-chain FAs) in their unusually robust cell walls. Mycobacterium tuberculosis cells in the human lung enter a dormant state within granulomas where they survive by incorporating FA from the host triacylglycerols into lipid droplets. Alterations in FA metabolism in cancer cells are increasingly recognized and more attention is being devoted to the fact that in these cells, carbon must be diverted from energy production to FA for the biosynthesis of membranes and signaling molecules.

Lipid and FA research has gained considerable applied importance in human nutrition and health as humans are “top predators” that require essential dietary nutrients in their diet, and many signal- and disease-related mechanisms involve lipid components. In humans, PUFAs such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) play key roles in heart health, immune and inflammatory responses, visual acuity as well as being major components of the central nervous system. Consumer health trends further contribute to the current interest in lipids as the debate over the benefits and risks of PUFAs, as well as trans-unsaturated and hydrogenated FAs, for human health appear daily in the media.

In this Special Issue, we intend to highlight the relevance of FA studies to answer important questions in different research fields, including the relationship between lipid molecular structure and biochemical function.

Dr. Carla C. C. R. de Carvalho
Dr. Maria José Caramujo
Dr. Craig Frank
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Molecules is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • free fatty acid (FFA)
  • triacylglycerol (TAG)
  • wax ester (WE)
  • phospholipid (PL)
  • monoenoic fatty acid (MUFA)
  • polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA)
  • omega-3 (ω3; n-3) fatty acid
  • mycolic acid
  • cholesterol ester (CE)

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Review

23 pages, 1490 KiB  
Review
Effects of Dietary α-Linolenic Acid Treatment and the Efficiency of Its Conversion to Eicosapentaenoic and Docosahexaenoic Acids in Obesity and Related Diseases
by Marija Takic, Biljana Pokimica, Gordana Petrovic-Oggiano and Tamara Popovic
Molecules 2022, 27(14), 4471; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27144471 - 13 Jul 2022
Cited by 28 | Viewed by 3898
Abstract
The essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is present in high amounts in oils such as flaxseed, soy, hemp, rapeseed, chia, and perilla, while stearidonic acid is abundant in echium oil. ALA is metabolized to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) by [...] Read more.
The essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is present in high amounts in oils such as flaxseed, soy, hemp, rapeseed, chia, and perilla, while stearidonic acid is abundant in echium oil. ALA is metabolized to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) by desaturases and elongases in humans. The conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is limited, and these long-chain n−3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are mainly provided from dietary sources (fish and seafood). This review provides an overview of studies that explored the effects of dietary supplementation with ALA in obesity and related diseases. The obesity-associated changes of desaturase and elongase activities are summarized, as they could influence the metabolic conversion of ALA. Generally, supplementation with ALA or ALA-rich oils leads to an increase in EPA levels and has no effect on DHA or omega-3 index. According to the literature data, stearidonic acid could enhance conversion of ALA to long-chain n−3 PUFA in obesity. Recent studies confirm that EPA and DHA intake should be considered as a primary dietary treatment strategy for improving the omega-3 index in obesity and related diseases. Full article
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10 pages, 746 KiB  
Review
Head-Group Acylation of Chloroplast Membrane Lipids
by Yu Song, Zolian S. Zoong Lwe, Pallikonda Arachchige Dona Bashanee Vinusha Wickramasinghe and Ruth Welti
Molecules 2021, 26(5), 1273; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26051273 - 26 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2549
Abstract
Head group-acylated chloroplast lipids were discovered in the 1960s, but interest was renewed about 15 years ago with the discovery of Arabidopsides E and G, acylated monogalactosyldiacylglycerols with oxidized fatty acyl chains originally identified in Arabidopsis thaliana. Since then, plant biologists have [...] Read more.
Head group-acylated chloroplast lipids were discovered in the 1960s, but interest was renewed about 15 years ago with the discovery of Arabidopsides E and G, acylated monogalactosyldiacylglycerols with oxidized fatty acyl chains originally identified in Arabidopsis thaliana. Since then, plant biologists have applied the power of mass spectrometry to identify additional oxidized and non-oxidized chloroplast lipids and quantify their levels in response to biotic and abiotic stresses. The enzyme responsible for the head-group acylation of chloroplast lipids was identified as a cytosolic protein closely associated with the chloroplast outer membrane and christened acylated galactolipid-associated phospholipase 1 (AGAP1). Despite many advances, critical questions remain about the biological functions of AGAP1 and its head group-acylated products. Full article
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