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noun, plural: glycophosphatidylinositols

A type of glycolipid made up of a carbohydrate glycosidically linked to the inositol residue of phosphatidylinositol lipid moiety, and mainly serves in the anchorage of proteins, glycoproteins, and lipophosphoglycans on the surface of eukaryotic cells


A glycolipid is a glycoconjugate comprised of carbohydrate and lipid moieties. Examples of glycolipids are glycosphingolipids, glyceroglycolipids, and glycophosphatidylinositols.

A glycophosphatidylinositol is comprised of a phosphatidylinositol lipid moiety attached to a sugar. The sugar is attached glycosidically to the inositol residue.

One of the major biological functions of glycophosphatidylinositol is to anchor proteins on the surface of the cell. Thus, it is found in the cell membrane wherein it is involved in cell to cell interactions. For instance, certain protein bound to the glycophosphatidylinositol on the surface of the cell confers protection against the action of serum complement. Mutation involving glycophosphatidylinositol may lead to the destruction of the cell, such as in the case of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, a disease characterized by the destruction of the red blood cells by the complement system due to deficiency or lack of glycophosphatidylinositol.1

Also called:

  • glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)

See also:

1 glycosylphosphatidylinositol. (n.d.) Medical Dictionary. (2009). Retrieved September 20 2018 from