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Protein Eng. 2001 Jan;14(1):17-25.

Post-translational GPI lipid anchor modification of proteins in kingdoms of life: analysis of protein sequence data from complete genomes.

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Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin, Robert-Rössle-Strasse 10, D-13122 Berlin-Buch, Germany.


To investigate the occurrence of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) lipid anchor modification in various taxonomic ranges, potential substrate proteins have been searched for in completely sequenced genomes. We applied the big-pi predictor for the recognition of propeptide cleavage and anchor attachment sites with a new, generalized analytical form of the extreme-value distribution for evaluating false-positive prediction rates. (i) We find that GPI modification is present among lower and higher Eukaryota (approximately 0.5% of all proteins) but it seems absent in all eubacterial and three archaeobacterial species studied. Four other archaean genomes appear to encode such a fraction of substrate proteins (in the range of eukaryots) that they cannot be explained as false-positive predictions. This result supports the possible existence of GPI anchor modification in an archaean subgroup. (ii) The frequency of GPI-modified proteins on various chromosomes of a given eukaryotic species is different. (iii) Lists of potentially GPI-modified proteins in complete genomes with their predicted cleavage sites are available at (iv) Orthologues of known transamidase subunits have been found only for EUKARYA: Inconsistencies in domain structure among homologues some of which may indicate sequencing errors are described. We present a refined model of the transamidase complex.

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