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  • Copyright 2002 by Lipid Research, Inc.

    1150 Journal of Lipid Research

    Volume 43, 2002

    This article is available online at

    Nonenzymatic synthesis of glycerolipids catalyzedby imidazole

    Eric Testet,


    * Malika Akermoun,* Miyuki Shimoji,

    Claude Cassagne,* andJean-Jacques Bessoule*

    UMR 5544/ESTBB,* CNRS-Universit Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2, 146 rue Lo Saignat, 33076 Bordeaux Cedex, France; and Institute of Environmental Medicine,

    Division of Biochemical Toxicology, Karolinska Institute, Box 210, S-17177, Stockholm, Sweden

    Abstract Imidazole catalyzed acylations of lysolipids byacyl-CoAs in water at room temperature and at a pH close toneutrality. In the presence of oleoyl-CoA and either lyso-

    phosphatidylcholine, 1-palmitoyl-


    -glycero-3-phosphocholine(LPC); lysophosphatidylglycerol, monoacyl-


    -glycero-3-phos-phoglycerol; lysophosphatidyl acid, 1-oleoyl-


    -glycero-3-phos-phate; lysophosphatidylserine, monoacyl-



    serin; or lysophosphatidylethanolamine, monoacyl-


    -glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine, the corresponding phos-pholipids were synthesized. Similarly, the use of lyso-plate-let activating factor, an ether analog of LPC, yielded the for-mation of 1-




    -glycero-3-phosphocholine. Inthe presence of LPC, an imidazole-catalyzed synthesis ofphosphatidylcholine (PC) occurred when medium, long,

    and very long chain acyl-CoAs were added. With hydroxy-acyl-CoA, a similar PC synthesis was obtained. The processdescribed in the present paper appears to offer several po-tential applications of interest for the synthesis of glycero-phospholipids and triglycerides with labeled and/or an un-usual or fragile fatty acid, or when suitable acyltransferaseshave not yet been described in the literature and/or are notcommercially available. The method described is very safeand simple since lipids can be synthesized in tubes contain-ing 0.7% imidazole in water, and left for a few hours atroom temperature on the bench.

    Testet, E., M. Akermoun,M. Shimoji, C. Cassagne, and J-J. Bessoule.

    Non-enzymaticsynthesis of glycerolipids catalyzed by imidazole.

    J. LipidRes.




    Supplementary key words





    omega hydroxypalmitoyl-CoA

    Lipids are not only efficient reserves for organisms andmajor components of cell membranes, but are also activecompounds involved in a wide range of cellular responses.Studies in this field generally require a wide range of veryspecific lipid derivatives in small amounts and of high pu-

    rity, and are ideally available as labeled products (12).Unfortunately, such molecules are often not commerciallyavailable and must be synthesized chemically or enzymati-cally (when possible) before the experiments.

    An overview of the literature shows that lipids of inter-est are generally synthesized as follows: the first step is anenzymatic hydrolysis catalyzed by various lipases (37).The lysolipids synthesized in this way are then purifiedand reacylated with the fatty acid of interest. Chemicaland enzymatic methods are currently available for thereacylation step. Frequently (810), chemical methods in-volve the use of fatty acyl chloride, anhydride, or imida-zolide, which are usually dissolved in a water-insoluble or-ganic phase. However, the experimental conditions usedfor such chemical biosynthesis (e.g., temperature, pH)may damage some fragile reaction products. Methodsbased on enzymatic synthesis (7) suffer from other disad-vantages: when not commercially available, the purifica-tion of an enzyme devoid of contamination is, when possi-ble, tedious and time-consuming, whereas a crude enzymepreparation may contain significant amounts of endoge-nous fatty acids or their activated form, acyl-CoA, whichmay lead to the synthesis of undesirable components. Inaddition, the use of unusual fatty acids, such as branchedor substituted ones or those with varying chain length, isoften limited by the specificity of available acyltrans-ferases.

    Abbreviations: C16-OH, omega-hydroxypalmitic acid; LPA, lyso-phosphatidyl acid, 1-oleoyl-


    -glycero-3-phosphate; LPAF, lyso-plateletactivating factor, 1-




    -glycero-3-phosphocholine; LPC, lyso-phosphatidylcholine, 1-palmitoyl-


    -glycero-3-phosphocholine; LPE,lysophosphatidylethanolamine, monoacyl-


    -glycero-3-phosphoethanol-amine; LPG, lysophosphatidylglycerol, monoacyl-


    -glycero-3-phosphoglyc-erol; LPS, lysophosphatidylserine, monoacyl-




    -acyl phosphatidylethanolamine, diacyl-




    -octadecenoyl]-ethanolamine; PA, phosphatidic acid; PC, phosphati-dylcholine; PE, phosphatidylethanolamine; PG, phosphatidylglycerol;PS, phosphatidylserine.


    To whom correspondence should be addressed.e-mail:

    Manuscript received 14 February 2002 and in revised form March 29 2002.

    DOI 10.1194/jlr.M200075-JLR200

    by guest, on Septem

    ber 15, 2018w



    ownloaded from

  • Testet et al.

    Imidazole-catalyzed synthesis of glycerolipids 1151

    In the present paper, a non-enzymatic method for thesynthesis of glycerolipids is described; acylation of variouslysolipids by various acyl-CoAs occurred in the presence ofimidazole in water at room temperature and at a pH closeto neutrality. This process can be useful, for example, tosynthesize glycerolipids with labeled and/or an unusualor sensitive fatty acid, or when suitable enzymes have notyet been described in the literature and/or are not com-mercially available.



    TLC plates were HPLC silica gel 60 plates (Merck 60 F 254).[1-


    C]oleyl-CoA (specific radioactivity, 55 mCi/mmol), [1-


    C]-acetyl-CoA (specific radioactivity, 52 mCi/mmol), and [1-




    -glycerol-3-phosphocholine (57 mCi/mmol) were pur-chased from New England Nuclear, Boston, MA. All other re-agents were from Sigma (St. Louis, MO). Labeled glycerolipidswere identified and quantified using a PhosphorImager (Molecu-lar Dynamics, Amersham Pharmacia Biotech, Orsay, France).


    Omega-hydroxy fatty acyl-CoA was obtained as follows: 10 mgof C16-OH (omega-hydroxypalmitic acid) were diluted in 1 ml ofchloroform-methanol (9:1, v/v) and dried under nitrogen. Aquantity of 0.2 ml of NH


    OH (2 M) was then added, and after in-cubation at 60

    C for 30 min NH


    was blown down under nitro-gen before 2.5 ml of water and 1 ml of 10% Triton X-100 wereadded (final volume 5 ml). The incubation was then carried outin the presence of C16-OH (1 mM final), 0.12M Tris-HCl (pH7.5), 8 mM ATP, 16 mM phosphoenolpyruvate, 20 mM MgCl


    , 8mM KCl, pyruvate kinase, myokinase, and acyl-CoA synthetasefrom Pseudomonas (0.01 unit, Sigma A-2777). After 10 min at30

    C, CoASH (0.5 mM) was added to start the reaction. After 1 hof incubation, unreacted free fatty acids were extracted by HCl/iso-propanol and acyl-CoAs by water-saturated butanol. The amountand the purity of the product (acyl-CoA) were determined afterchromatography on TLC plates using butanol-acetic acid-water(5:2:3, v/v/v) as solvent. This acyl-CoA as well as other unlabeledacyl-CoA (from Sigma) were incubated with labeled lyso-PC in thepresence of imidazole as indicated in the legend of the Fig. 7.

    Experiments carried out in the presence of unlabeled lysolip-ids and labeled oleoyl-coenzyme A were carried out as follows:lysolipid samples (5 nmol) dissolved in chloroform-methanol(2:1, v/v) were evaporated to dryness and then dispersed by son-ication (10 min) in 70

    l water. Routinely, 20

    l of 0.5 M imida-zole and 10

    l [


    C]oleoyl-Coenzyme A (0.5 nmol) were addedand incubated for 3 h at 30

    C (final volume 100

    l).After incubation, 2 ml of chloroform-methanol (2:1, v/v) and


    l of water were added to the mixture in order to stop the re-action and to extract lipids. After phase separation, the organicphase was isolated and 2 ml of chloroform were added to the re-maining aqueous phase. After a new phase separation, the or-ganic phases were pooled and evaporated to dryness. Lipids werethen suspended in 50

    l chloroform-methanol (2:1, v/v). Polarlipids were resolved by one-dimensional TLC using the solventsystem described by Vitiello and Zanetta (11). Identification ofradioactive spots was performed by co-migration with unlabeledlipid standards visualized under iodine vapors. The lipid labelswere quantified as described above.

    Phospholipase A


    assays were carried out as described pre-viously (12). Briefly, after chromatography the silica gel zonescorresponding to PC (neosynthesized PC and commercial 1-palmi-toyl, 2-[


    C]linoleoyl-PC) were scraped off the plates and soni-cated for 15 min in 0.2 ml of 50 mM Tris-HCl, pH 8.9, and 5 mMCaCl


    . Reactions were started by the addition of 0.2 units of phos-pholipase A


    (Sigma P-8913). Incubations were performed for 15min at 37

    C. After incubation, 2 ml chloroform-methanol (2:1,v/v) were added in order to stop reactions and to start lipid ex-traction. The organic phase was washed with 1 ml of 0.2 MH




    , 1 M KCl. The aqueous phase was re-extracted by 2 ml ofchloroform. Both of the organic phases were combined, evapo-rated, and lipids were redissolved in a minimal volume of chloro-form-methanol


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