Phospholipases play central roles in regulating signalling during numerous cellular events including proliferation, G protein‐coupled receptor signalling and neuronal activation by catalysing the lysis of phosphorylated lipids. In turn, second messengers are released, which control downstream events. Four distinct families of phospholipases have been described and are named A, B, C and D and range in size from 13 to 250 kDa. These enzyme family members are categorised based on the stereospecifically numbered sites within phospholipids where they promote cleavage.

An Overview of Phospholipases

Phospholipase is a kind of enzyme responsible for the metabolism and biosynthesis of phospholipids in organisms, which can catalyze various hydrolysis reactions of glycerophospholipids. As a biocatalyst, phospholipase is highly efficient and specific to other chemical catalysts. The main biological functions of phospholipase include maintenance and repair of cell membrane structure, regulation of intracellular metabolic mechanisms and signaling, and digestion of phospholipids in vivo. Phospholipase not only has important physiological functions in living organisms, but also has high application value, and can be widely used in scientific research, medicine, feed improvement and food industry. Phospholipases are ubiquitous in animals, plants and microorganisms. Due to the variety of microbial-derived phospholipases, mostly exogenous expression, single-subunit protein, easy to prepare in large quantities, and low cost, it has become the most important approach in the current food industry.

Major Type of Phospholipases

According to the position of the hydrolyzed phospholipids, phospholipase can be divided into five categories: phospholipases A1, A2, B, C, D. Phospholipase A2 (PLA2) is abundantly present in snake venom, bee venom, scorpion venom, animal pancreas and plant tissues. PLA2 mediates the production of lipid mediators with phospholipid transport, membrane repair, extracellular hydrolysis, and neuronal transfer factors. In medicine, PLA2 is used in the production of anti-inflammatory drugs. Phospholipase C (PLC) acts as a second messenger in the life activities of living things. It is widely found in various prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms, but differs slightly in molecular structure. PLC has been applied to the development of anti-tumor drugs. In the food industry, PLA1, PLA2 and PLC can be widely used in grease degumming. At the same time, since the phospholipase can form a gelatinous complex to reduce the starch rejuvenation, it is also widely used in the baking industry. In addition, phospholipase D (PLD) is also widely used in the modification of glycerophospholipids.

With the rapid development of genetic engineering and the continuation of research on phospholipases, people will find ways to rapidly produce phospholipases, laying a good foundation for its industrial application.


Víctor C., Diana M., Carlos T., et al. (2012) Phospholipases in Food Industry: A Review. Methods Mol Biol, 861: 495-523

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