Lipids fulfill multiple and diverse functions in cells. Establishing the molecular basis for these functions has been challenging due to the lack of catalytic activity of lipids and the pleiotropic effects of mutations that affect lipid composition. By combining molecular genetic manipulation of membrane lipid composition with biochemical characterization of the resulting phenotypes, the molecular details of novel lipid functions have been established. This review summarizes the results of such a combined approach to defining lipid function in bacteria.
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