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Glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins (GPI-APs) are a class of membrane proteins containing a soluble protein attached by a conserved glycolipid anchor to the external leaflet of the plasma membrane. In polarized epithelial cells, GPI-APs are predominantly sorted to the apical surface in the trans-Golgi network (TGN) by clustering in sphingolipid- and cholesterol-dependent microdomains (or rafts), which have been proposed to act as apical sorting platforms. Recent data indicate that the mechanisms of GPI-AP sorting, occurring in the Golgi, control both the membrane transport of GPI-APs and their specific activity at the apical surface of fully polarized epithelial cells. Here, we discuss the most recent findings and the factors regulating apical sorting of GPI-APs at the Golgi in polarized epithelial cells. We also underline the differences in the plasma membrane organization of GPI-APs between polarized and non-polarized cells supporting the existence of various mechanisms that control GPI-AP organization in different cell types.


Chiara Zurzolo, Kai Simons. Glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored proteins: Membrane organization and transport. Biochimica et biophysica acta. 2016 Apr;1858(4):632-9

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PMID: 26706096

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