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The first step in glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) membrane anchor biosynthesis that is defective in paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria is mediated by an N-acetylglucosaminyl transferase expressed in the endoplasmic reticulum. Six human genes encode subunits of this enzyme, namely PIG-A, PIG-C, PIG-H, PIG-P, GPI1, and DPM2. Here, the human GPI1 gene is characterised. This gene is organised into eleven exons. The locus was mapped to chromosome 16p13.3 near the haemoglobin alpha chain locus. GPI1 is expressed ubiquitously in human cells and tissues. Expression levels are markedly elevated in haematopoietic tissues (bone marrow, foetal liver). To determine whether human GPI1 is essential for human GPI biosynthesis, antisense RNA was expressed in HEK293 cells. Transfectants exhibited a marked but incomplete decrease in the expression of a GPI-linked reporter protein, confirming that GPI1 is required for efficient GPI biosynthesis. In contrast, expression of GPI-linked proteins is normal in lymphatic cell lines from individuals with the alpha thalassaemia/mental retardation syndrome, which is characterised by large deletions from chromosome 16p removing one of the two GPI1 alleles along with the haemoglobin alpha locus. In conclusion, GPI1 plays an important role in the biosynthesis of GPI intermediates. Due to its autosomal localisation, the heterozygous deletion of GPI1 does not lead to an overt defect in the expression of GPI-linked proteins.


Journal article



Publication Date





247 - 254


Cell Line, Transformed Chromosome Mapping Chromosomes, Human, Pair 16/genetics DNA, Antisense/genetics Exons Female Gene Expression Gene Expression Regulation Genes, Structural/genetics Glycosylphosphatidylinositols/*biosynthesis/metabolism Heterozygote Human Introns Jurkat Cells Male Membrane Proteins/*genetics/metabolism RNA, Messenger/genetics/metabolism Support, Non-U.S. Gov't Tissue Distribution