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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 1998 Mar;30(3):313-26.

The role of glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol in signal transduction.

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Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, Spain.


Glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol (GPI) lipids have a structural role as protein anchors to the cell surface. In addition, they are implicated in hormone, growth factor and cytokine signal transduction. Their phosphodiesteric hydrolysis mediated by an activated phospholipase results in the generation of water soluble oligosaccharide species termed the inositol phosphoglycan (IPG). This product has been demonstrated to possess biological properties when added exogenously to cells mimicking the biological effects of a variety of extracellular ligands. This may be accomplished since IPG is generic for a family of closely related species which are released in a tissue-specific manner and additionally have cell-specific targets. Micro-organic synthesis has recently been able to shed new light on this topic by the introduction of defined oligosaccharide analogues of IPG for the assessment of their biological activity. These have complemented the findings observed with purified IPG from biological sources thus strengthening the belief that the GPI/IPG signalling system represents a truly novel aspect of transmembrane signalling.

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