These web pages describe the structures, occurrence, biochemistry, and functions of the sphingolipids, including sphingoid bases, ceramides, sphingo-phospholipids such as sphingomyelin, and the glycosphingolipids from cerebrosides to gangliosides. The defining building block of a sphingolipid is a sphingoid base such as sphingosine, linked via an amide bond to a long-chain fatty acid to form a ceramide. Each sphingolipid component has important biological activities in its own right, but ceramides can be linked via the terminal hydroxyl group to phosphate or to carbohydrate moieties to produce highly complex molecules with vital biological functions, for example as cellular messengers or as part of the immune system. In membranes, sphingolipids are key component of the specialized micro-domains termed 'rafts'. Sphingolipids in animals, plants and microorganisms have very different compositions and functions.

These essays are aimed at generalists or those who are new to the subject, especially young scientists - not experts in particular disciplines, but the reading lists at the end of each web page should assist those who require a more specialized knowledge and facilitate access to the primary literature. In addition, the Literature Survey pages contain comprehensive lists of those publications consulted during the writing of this section of the site. These web pages are updated regularly as new information becomes available.

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Contact/credits/disclaimer Updated: January 25th, 2023