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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Identification of a glycolipid precursor of the Trypanosoma brucei variant surface glycoprotein.

The variant surface glycoprotein ( VSG) of Trypanosoma brucei has a glycolipid covalently attached to its C terminus. This glycolipid, which anchors the protein to the cell membrane, is attached to the VSG polypeptide within 1 min after translation (Bangs, J. D. Hereld, D., Krakow, J.L., Hart, G. W., and Englund, P. T. (1985) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 82, 3207-3211). This rapid processing suggests that, prior to incorporation, the glycolipid may exist in the cell as a preformed precursor which is transferred to the VSG polypeptide en bloc. We have isolated a molecule which has properties consistent with it being a VSG glycolipid precursor. It is highly polar and can be labeled by [3H] myristate but not by [3H]palmitate. It reaches steady state during continuous labeling with [3H]myristate and shows rapid turnover in pulse-chase experiments, suggesting that it is a metabolic intermediate rather than an end product. When treated with HNO2 it liberates phosphatidylinositol, as does VSG (Ferguson, M. A. J., Low, M. G., and Cross, G. A. M. (1985) J. Biol. Chem. 260, 14547-14555). Also, like VSG, it releases a compound which co-migrates on thin layer chromatography with dimyristylglycerol when treated with the purified endogenous phospholipase C from trypanosomes. After treatment with this lipase, the putative precursor can be immunoprecipitated by antibodies directed against the C-terminal cross-reactive antigenic determinant of the VSG. These data provide strong evidence that this glycolipid is a VSG precursor.[1]


  1. Identification of a glycolipid precursor of the Trypanosoma brucei variant surface glycoprotein. Krakow, J.L., Hereld, D., Bangs, J.D., Hart, G.W., Englund, P.T. J. Biol. Chem. (1986) [Pubmed]
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