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J Biol Chem. 2002 Dec 20;277(51):49538-44. Epub 2002 Oct 18.

Sphingolipids are required for the stable membrane association of glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored proteins in yeast.

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  • 1Biozentrum of the University of Basel, Klingelbergstrasse 70, Basel 4056, Switzerland.


Ongoing sphingolipid synthesis is specifically required in vivo for the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to Golgi transport of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins. However, the sphingolipid intermediates that are required for transport nor their role(s) have been identified. Using stereoisomers of dihydrosphingosine, together with specific inhibitors and a mutant defective for sphingolipid synthesis, we now show that ceramides and/or inositol sphingolipids are indispensable for GPI-anchored protein transport. Furthermore, in the absence of sphingolipid synthesis, a significant fraction of GPI-anchored proteins is no longer associated tightly with the ER membrane. The loose membrane association is neither because of the lack of a GPI-anchor nor because of prolonged ER retention of GPI-anchored proteins. These results indicate that ceramides and/or inositol sphingolipids are required to stabilize the association of GPI-anchored proteins with membranes. They could act either by direct involvement as membrane components or as substrates for the remodeling of GPI lipid moieties.

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