Statistical analysis of the processes controlling choline and ethanolamine glycerophospholipid molecular species composition.

Document Type


Publication Date



Algorithms, Animals, Choline, Cluster Analysis, Ethanolamine, Glycerophospholipids, Lipid Metabolism, Lipids, Metabolomics, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Models, Statistical

JAX Source

PLoS One 2012; 7(5):e37293.




The regulation and maintenance of the cellular lipidome through biosynthetic, remodeling, and catabolic mechanisms are critical for biological homeostasis during development, health and disease. These complex mechanisms control the architectures of lipid molecular species, which have diverse yet highly regulated fatty acid chains at both the sn1 and sn2 positions. Phosphatidylcholine (PC) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) serve as the predominant biophysical scaffolds in membranes, acting as reservoirs for potent lipid signals and regulating numerous enzymatic processes. Here we report the first rigorous computational dissection of the mechanisms influencing PC and PE molecular architectures from high-throughput shotgun lipidomic data. Using novel statistical approaches, we have analyzed multidimensional mass spectrometry-based shotgun lipidomic data from developmental mouse heart and mature mouse heart, lung, brain, and liver tissues. We show that in PC and PE, sn1 and sn2 positions are largely independent, though for low abundance species regulatory processes may interact with both the sn1 and sn2 chain simultaneously, leading to cooperative effects. Chains with similar biochemical properties appear to be remodeled similarly. We also see that sn2 positions are more regulated than sn1, and that PC exhibits stronger cooperative effects than PE. A key aspect of our work is a novel statistically rigorous approach to determine cooperativity based on a modified Fisher's exact test using Markov Chain Monte Carlo sampling. This computational approach provides a novel tool for developing mechanistic insight into lipidomic regulation.