June 2013

Suggested shorthand for lipid structures identified through mass spectrometry

proposed lipid structure terminology pyramid

The June issue of the Journal of Lipid Research features a proposal for standardized terminology for lipid structures elucidated via mass spectrometry. The proposal by Gerhard Liebisch of the University of Regensburg and colleagues would complement the currently used comprehensive classification system for lipids on the LIPID MAPS website.
Mass spectrometry, the key methodology used in analyzing lipid species, often does not yield the structural details described by the LIPID MAPS nomenclature. As a result, scientists have taken to using a variety of different notations for lipid species, so a lack of consistency across the board has emerged.
In this special report, Liebisch et al. say that standardization would allow correct and concise reporting of research data and proper deposition of these structures in databases and that it would facilitate the exchange of data between labs.
The proposal covers major lipid categories and classes of mammalian lipids (fatty acyls, glycerolipids and glycerophospholipids, sphingolipids and sterols), but the authors suggest that future proposals could go beyond this and include minor lipid classes and lipid classes of other organisms.

Mary ChangMary L. Chang (mchang@asbmb.org) is publications manager for the Journal of Lipid Research and Molecular & Cellular Proteomics.

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