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What are the main influences on membrane composition in young animals?

The membrane of an animal is comprised of phospholipids which are composed of hydrophobic fatty acid tails and hydrophilic phospholipid head groups. There are many different fatty acid species and phospholipid head groups found in the membrane, and it has been established that proper composition of each is necessary for optimal membrane function. However, it remains unclear how the appropriate phospholipid composition is maintained. Membrane phospholipid turnover can be a result of deacylation/reacylation reactions, which turn over the fatty acid alone, or phospholipid turnover, which replaces the entire phospholipid. The goal of this project is to establish the relative contribution of fatty acid and phospholipid turnover in maintaining the structure of the membrane. We will also explore how these two processes may compensate for each other to ensure proper membrane function.