Glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) serves as a membrane anchor for a large number of eukaryotic proteins. A genetic approach was used to investigate the biosynthesis of GPI anchor precursors in mammalian cells. T cell hybridoma mutants that cannot synthesize dolichol-phosphate-mannose (Dol-P-Man) also do not express on their surface GPI-anchored proteins such as Thy-1 and Ly-6A. These mutants cannot form mannose-containing GPI precursors. Transfection with the yeast Dol-P-Man synthase gene rescues the synthesis of both Dol-P-Man and mannose-containing GPI precursors, as well as the surface expression of Thy-1 and Ly-6A, suggesting that Dol-P-Man is the donor of at least one mannose residue in the GPI core.
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