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Lipids are commonly known for the structural roles they play, however the specific contribution of different lipid classes to wide-ranging signalling pathways is progressively being unravelled. Signalling lipids and their associated effector proteins are emerging as significant contributors to a vast array of effector functions within cells, including essential processes such as membrane fusion and vesicle exocytosis. Many phospholipids have signalling capacity, however this review will focus on phosphatidic acid (PA) and the enzymes implicated in its production from diacylglycerol (DAG) and phosphatidylcholine (PC): DGK and PLD respectively. PA is a negatively charged, cone-shaped lipid identified as a key mediator in specific membrane fusion and vesicle exocytosis events in a variety of mammalian cells, and has recently been implicated in specialised secretory organelle exocytosis in apicomplexan parasites. This review summarises the recent work implicating a role for PA regulation in exocytosis in various cell types. We will discuss how these signalling events are linked to pathogenesis in the phylum Apicomplexa.
HB was supported by the Indo –Swiss joint research project (ISJRP-138850). DSF is HHMI senior international research scholar.