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Mol Membr Biol. 2000 Jan-Mar;17(1):1-16.

Recent developments in the cell biology and biochemistry of glycosylphosphatidylinositol lipids (review).

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


Glycosylphosphatidylinositols (GPIs) represent an abundant and ubiquitous class of eukaryotic glycolipids. Although these structures were originally discovered in the form of GPI-anchored cell surface glycoproteins, it is becoming increasingly clear that a significant proportion of the GPI synthetic output of a cell is not directed to protein anchoring. Indeed, pools of non-protein-linked GPIs can approach 10(7) molecules per cell in some cell types, especially the protozoa, with a large proportion of these molecules being displayed at the cell surface. Recent studies which form the subject of this review indicate that there is (a) considerable diversity in the range of structural modifications found on GPI glycolipids within and between species and cell types, (b) complexity in the topological arrangement of the GPI biosynthetic pathway in the endoplasmic reticulum, and (c) spatial restriction of the biosynthetic pathway within the endoplasmic reticulum. Furthermore, consistent with additional functional roles for these lipids beyond serving as protein anchor precursors, products of the GPI biosynthetic pathway appear to be widely distributed in the cellular endomembrane system. These studies indicate that there is still much to learn about the organization of glycolipid biosynthetic pathways in eukaryotic cells, the nature and subcellular distribution of the lipid products of these pathways, and the function of these lipids within cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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