A glycolipid metabolically labelled with [14C]GlcN was isolated from the free-living protozoan Tetrahymena mimbres. The glycolipid was sensitive to a bacterial phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C, and the headgroup was shown to contain a phosphorylated Man alpha 1-2Man alpha 1-4Man alpha 1-4GlcN glycan. The Tetrahymena glycolipid is structurally unique among the glycosylphosphatidylinositols that have so far been characterized, including those from several protozoan parasites of humans.

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