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Glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins (GAPs) are a unique type of membrane-associated proteins in eukaryotes. GPI and GAP biogenesis and function have been well studied in non-plant models and play an important role in the fertility of mouse sperm and egg. Although GPI and GAP biogenesis and function in plants are less known, they are critical for flowering plant reproduction because of their essential roles in the fertility of the male and female gametophytes. In Eukaryotes, GPI, a glycolipid molecule, can be post-translationally attached to proteins to serve as an anchor in the plasma membrane. GPI-anchoring, compared to other modes of membrane attachment and lipidation processes, localizes proteins to the extracellular portion of the plasma membrane and confers several unique attributes including specialized sorting during secretion, molecular painting onto membranes, and enzyme-mediated release of protein through anchor cleavage. While the biosynthesis, structure, and role of GPI are mostly studied in mammals, yeast and protists, the function of GPI and GAPs in plants is being discovered, particularly in gametophyte development and function. Here, we review GPI biosynthesis, protein attachment, and remodeling in plants with insights about this process in mammals. Additionally, we summarize the reproductive phenotypes of all loss of function mutations in Arabidopsis GPI biosynthesis and GAP genes and compare these to the reproductive phenotypes seen in mice to serve as a framework to identify gaps in our understanding of plant GPI and GAPs. In addition, we present an analysis on the gametophyte expression of all Arabidopsis GAPs to assist in further research on the role of GPI and GAPs in all aspects of the gametophyte generation in the life cycle of a plant.


Nicholas Desnoyer, Ravishankar Palanivelu. Bridging the GAPs in plant reproduction: a comparison of plant and animal GPI-anchored proteins. Plant reproduction. 2020 Dec;33(3-4):129-142

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PMID: 32945906

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