The mature sphingolipids of yeast consist of IPCs (inositolphosphorylceramides) and glycosylated derivatives thereof. Beyond being an abundant membrane constituent in the organelles of the secretory pathway, IPCs are also used to constitute the lipid moiety of the majority of GPI (glycosylphosphatidylinositol) proteins, while a minority of GPI proteins contain PI (phosphatidylinositol). Thus all GPI anchor lipids (as well as free IPCs) typically contain C26 fatty acids. However, the primary GPI lipid that isadded to newly synthesized proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum consists of a PI with conventional C16 and C18 fatty acids. A new class of enzymes is required to replace the fatty acid in sn-2 by a C26 fatty acid. Cells lacking this activity make normal amounts of GPI proteins but accumulate GPI anchors containing lyso-PI. As a consequence, the endoplasmic reticulum to Golgi transport of the GPI protein Gas1p is slow, and mature Gas1p is lost from the plasma membrane into the medium. The GPI anchor containing C26 in sn-2 can further be remodelled by the exchange of diacylglycerol for ceramide. This process is also dependent on the presence of specific phosphorylethanolamine side-chains on the GPI anchor.

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Author notes

The Biochemical Society's Annual Symposium, The Cell Biology of Inositol Lipids and Phosphates, was held at the University of Birmingham on 29-31 March 2006.