Glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) is a glycolipid added to the C-terminus of a large variety of proteins in eukaryotes, thereby anchoring these proteins to the cell surface. More than 150 different human proteins are modified with GPI, and GPI-anchored proteins (GPI-APs) play critical roles in embryogenesis, neurogenesis, immunity, and fertilization. GPI-APs are biosynthesized in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and transported to the plasma membrane via the Golgi apparatus. During transport, GPI-APs undergo structural remodeling that is important for the efficient folding and sorting of GPI-APs. Asparagine-linked glycan-dependent folding and deacylation by PGAP1 work together to ensure that correctly folded GPI-APs are transported from the ER to the Golgi. Remodeling of the GPI lipid moiety is critical for the association of GPI-APs with lipid rafts. On the cell surface, certain GPI-APs are cleaved by GPI cleavage enzymes and released from the membrane, a key event in processes such as spermatogenesis and neurogenesis. In this review, we discuss the enzymes involved in GPI-AP biosynthesis and the fate of GPI-APs in mammalian cells, with a focus on the assembly, folding, degradation, and cleavage of GPI-APs.

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