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Journal of Lipids
Volume 2012, Article ID 640762, 8 pages
Review Article

The Phospholipid Profile of Mycoplasmas

Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, The Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School, 91120 Jerusalem, Israel

Received 14 March 2012; Accepted 23 May 2012

Academic Editor: Terry K. Smith

Copyright © 2012 Jonathan D. Kornspan and Shlomo Rottem. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The de novo synthesized polar lipids of Mycoplasma species are rather simple, comprising primarily of the acidic glycerophospholipids PG and CL. In addition, when grown in a medium containing serum, significant amounts of PC and SPM are incorporated into the mycoplasma cell membrane although these lipids are very uncommon in wall-covered bacteria. The exogenous lipids are either incorporated unchanged or the PC incorporated is modified by a deacylation-acylation enzymatic cycle to form disaturated PC. Although their small genome, in some Mycoplasma species, other genes involved in lipid biosynthesis were detected, resulting in the synthesis of a variety of glycolipis, phosphoglycolipids and ether lipids. We suggest that analyses and comparisons of mycoplasma polar lipids may serve as a novel and useful tool for classification. Nonetheless, to evaluate the importance of polar lipids in mycoplasma, further systematic and extensive studies on more Mycoplasma species are needed. While studies are needed to elucidate the role of lipids in the mechanisms governing the interaction of mycoplasmas with host eukaryotic cells, the finding that a terminal phosphocholine containing glycolipids of M. fermentans serves both as a major immune determinants and as a trigger of the inflammatory responses, and the findings that the fusogenicity of M. fermentans with host cells is markedly stimulated by lyso-ether lipids, are important steps toward understanding the molecular mechanisms of M. fermentans pathogenicity.