News & Views | Published:


A detour to sterol synthesis

Sterols are a hallmark of eukaryotes. So how do hordes of primitive eukaryotes survive and thrive without a key enzyme for making these crucial lipids? We now learn what solution evolution arrived at — invention of an alternative enzyme that does the same job.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    Galea, A. M. & Brown, A. J. Free Radic. Biol. Med. 47, 880–889 (2009).

  2. 2.

    Rampen, S. W., Abbas, B. A., Schouten, S. & Damste, J. S. S. Limnol. Oceanogr. 55, 91–105 (2010).

  3. 3.

    Bloch, K. Blondes in Venetian Paintings, the Nine-Banded Armadillo, and Other Essays in Biochemistry (Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, 1997).

  4. 4.

    Gold, D. A., Caron, A., Fournier, G. P. & Summons, R. E. Nature 543, 420–423 (2017).

  5. 5.

    Gill, S., Stevenson, J., Kristiana, I. & Brown, A. J. Cell Metabolism 13, 260–273 (2011).

  6. 6.

    Pollier, J. et al. Nat. Microbiol. (2018).

  7. 7.

    Huysman, M. J. J. et al. Plant Cell 25, 215–228 (2013).

  8. 8.

    Galperin, M. Y. & Koonin, E. V. J. Biol. Chem. 287, 21–28 (2012).

  9. 9.

    Newton, M. S., Arcus, V. L., Gerth, M. L. & Patrick, W. M. Curr. Opin. Struct. Biol. 48, 110–116 (2018).

  10. 10.

    Caron, D. A. Nat. Rev. Microbiol. 15, 6–20 (2017).

Download references

Author information

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Correspondence to Andrew J. Brown.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark
Fig. 1: SQE catalyses the first oxygenation step of sterol synthesis across eukaryotic life.