Long-chain amino alcohol that bears an approximate similarity to glycerol with a hydrophobic chain attached to the 3-carbon. Forms the class of sphingolipids when it carries an acyl group joined by an amide link to the nitrogen. Forms sphingomyelin when phosphoryl choline is attached to the 1-hydroxyl group. Gives rise to the cerebroside and ganglioside classes of glycolipids when oligosaccharides are attached to the 1-hydroxyl group. Not found in the free form.

Dictionary of molecular biology. 2004.

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