GPI anchors: WHY and HOW the complex molecules are being synthesized


Andrei V. Nikolaev,, College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 5EH, United Kingdom
Glycosylphosphatidylinositols (GPIs) are a class of natural glycosylphospholipids that anchor proteins, glycoproteins and lipophosphoglycans to the membrane of eukaryotic cells. In parasitic protozoa, the GPIs are anchoring mucins and phosphoglycans, thus forming a dense protective layer (glycocalyx) on the surface of the parasites. This type of anchor appears to be present in these organisms with a much higher frequency than in higher eukaryotes. The function of GPI anchors has been extensively discussed and there is evidence, that GPIs and/or their metabolites can act as secondary messengers, modulating biological events including insulin production, insulin-mediated signal transduction, cellular proliferation and cell-cell recognition. The parasitic GPI structures are diverse and the scope of their functions, from host cell invasion to the deception of the host's immune system, is astonishing. All of those make the chemical preparation of the compounds and their analogues of great interest. The lecture will discuss the most recent synthetic approaches to the complex molecules.