Structure. Prenol lipids are one of the eight lipid categories. They all feature a similar structure: they are based on one or multiple five-carbon isoprene units, the building blocks of prenol lipids. The isoprene chain can be linear, cyclic or branched and feature fatty acids, characteristic side-chains, functional groups, sugars, and double bonds – the flexibility of the prenol lipids structure gives rise to thousands of different lipid species.
Function. Prenol lipids can be found in all living organisms where they serve numerous biological roles. Depending on the type of organism, the prenol lipids compositions varies greatly. Isoprenoids account for the majority of prenol lipids, and they serve as precursors and intermediates in the synthesis of sterol lipids and hopanoids, as growth hormones and pigments in plants, and are widely used in medical and industrial applications, for example as flavorings.
Quinones serve equally diverse functions as isoprenoids. They function as electron carriers between membrane proteins within the electron transport chains of various processes to synthesize ATP, cellular energy, and help protect against oxidative damage. Many quinones are essential nutrients for mammals, for example lipid soluble vitamin E and vitamin K.