Lipids function not only as the major structural components of cell membranes, but also as molecular messengers that transduce signals to trigger downstream signaling events in the cell. Phosphatidic acid (PA), the simplest and a minor class of glycerophospholipids, is a key intermediate for the synthesis of membrane and storage lipids, and also plays important roles in mediating diverse cellular and physiological processes in eukaryotes ranging from microbes to mammals and higher plants. PA comprises different molecular species that can act differently, and is found in virtually all organisms, tissues, and organellar membranes, with variations in total content and molecular species composition. The cellular levels of PA are highly dynamic in response to stimuli and multiple enzymatic reactions can mediate its production and degradation. Moreover, its unique physicochemical properties compared with other glycerophospholipids allow PA to influence membrane structure and dynamics, and interact with various proteins. PA has emerged as a class of new lipid mediators modulating various signaling and cellular processes via its versatile effects, such as membrane tethering, conformational changes, and enzymatic activities of target proteins, and vesicular trafficking.

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