Glycerolipids, sphingolipids, and sterols are the three major classes of membrane lipids. Both glycerolipids and sphingolipids are comprised of combinations of polar headgroups and fatty acid tails. The fatty acid tail can be chemically modified with an azobenzene photoswitch giving rise to photoswitchable lipids. This approach has yielded a number of photopharmacological tools that allow for the control various of aspects of lipid assembly, metabolism, and physiology with light.
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