Endoplasmic Reticulum

ID #1983

Can you explain how exactly the GPI anchor comes to be? Do sugars just attach to any random lipid in the membrane or is it a specific lipid? Then the protein attaches to the sugars?


It starts with a specific type of phospholipid -- phosphatidyl inositol (that's the PI part of GPI). From there, different enzymes will assemble the parts of the anchor--the sugar molecules, the ethanolamines--until you have a glycosylated phosphatidyl inositol molecule (hence, GPI). Only when the GPI anchor is completed can a particular type of protein be covalently linked to it.

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