Phospholipases are lipolytic enzymes that hydrolyze phospholipid substrates at specific ester bonds. Phospholipases are widespread in nature and play very diverse roles from aggression in snake venom to signal transduction, lipid mediator production, and metabolite digestion in humans.Most cells contain a multitude of phospholipases that can either exist as secreted forms, membrane associated, or intracellular located. The functions of phospholipases are as diverse as their properties and cellular/tissue localizations. Two general sets of phospholipases exist, the acylhydrolases and the phosphodiesterases. Enzymes within each set are classified according to the site of the bond cleaved in their phospholipid substrates. Phospholipase A1 (PLA1), phospholipase A2 (PLA2), and phospholipase B (PLB) constitute the acylhydrolases, whereas the phosphodiesterases are represented by phospholipase C (PLC) and phospholipase D (PLD). PLA1 and PLA2 produce free fatty acids (FAs) and 2-acyl or 1-acyl-lysophospholipids, respectively. PLB is able to hydrolyze both the sn-1 and sn-2 FAs of phospholipids. PLC cleaves the glycerophosphate bond and PLD removes the headgroup of the phospholipid.


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