Sphingomyelin (SM) are a type of sphingolipid that have a sphingosine backbone, phosphate and choline head. They are found in cell membranes of mammals, particularly eye lenses and nerve cells.
They are amphipathic with a large hydrophobic acyl chain that is saturated or mono-unsaturated. This allows it to interact favorably with cholesterol to increase local entropy and therefore stabilizing cell structure
The polar phosphate and choline head can hydrogen bond and interact with viruses, bacteria, toxins, and proteins which can both hurt and help the cell. Hydrolysis of SM can make ceramide which can also contribute to cell signaling