Isoprenoids are indispensable for all types of cellular life in the Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya. These membrane-associated molecules are involved in a wide variety of vital biological functions, ranging from compartmentalization and stability, to protection and energy-transduction. In Archaea, isoprenoid compounds constitute the hydrophobic moiety of the typical ether-linked membrane lipids. With respect to stereochemistry and composition, these archaeal lipids are very different from the ester-linked, fatty acid-based phospholipids in bacterial and eukaryotic membranes. This review provides an update on isoprenoid biosynthesis pathways, with a focus on the archaeal enzymes. The black-and-white distribution of fundamentally distinct membrane lipids in Archaea on the one hand, and Bacteria and Eucarya on the other, has previously been used as a basis for hypothetical evolutionary scenarios, a selection of which will be discussed here.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology