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Müller, Guenter A. (2020): Membrane insertion and intercellular transfer of glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored proteins: potential therapeutic applications. In: Archives of Physiology and Biochemistry, Vol. 126, No. 2: pp. 139-156
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Anchorage of a subset of cell surface proteins in eukaryotic cells is mediated by a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) moiety covalently attached to the carboxy-terminus of the protein moiety. Experimental evidence for the potential of GPI-anchored proteins (GPI-AP) of being released from cells into the extracellular environment has been accumulating, which involves either the loss or retention of the GPI anchor. Release of GPI-AP from donor cells may occur spontaneously or in response to endogenous or environmental signals. The experimental evidence for direct insertion of exogenous GPI-AP equipped with the complete anchor structure into the outer plasma membrane bilayer leaflets of acceptor cells is reviewed as well as the potential underlying molecular mechanisms. Furthermore, promiscuous transfer of certain GPI-AP between plasma membranes of different cells in vivo under certain (patho)physiological conditions has been reported. Engineering of target cell surfaces using chimeric GPI-AP with complete GPI anchor may be useful for therapeutic applications.