Cloning of glycerophosphocholine acyltransferase (GPCAT) from fungi and plants: A novel enzyme in phosphatidylcholine synthesis

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Glycero-3-phosphocholine (GPC), the product of the complete deacylation of phosphatidylcholine (PC), was long thought to not be a substrate for reacylation. However, it was recently shown that cell-free extracts from yeast and plants could acylate GPC with acyl groups from acyl-CoA. By screening enzyme activities of extracts derived from a yeast knock-out collection, we were able to identify and clone the yeast gene (GPC1) encoding the enzyme, named glycerophosphocholine acyltransferase (GPCAT). By homology search, we also identified and cloned GPCAT genes from three plant species. All enzymes utilize acyl-CoA to acylate GPC, forming lyso-PC, and they show broad acyl specificities in both yeast and plants. In addition to acyl-CoA, GPCAT efficiently utilizes LPC and lysophosphatidylethanolamine as acyl donors in the acylation of GPC. GPCAT homologues were found in the major eukaryotic organism groups but not in prokaryotes or chordates. The enzyme forms its own protein family and does not contain any of the acyl binding or lipase motifs that are present in other studied acyltransferases and transacylases. In vivo labeling studies confirm a role for Gpc1p in PC biosynthesis in yeast. It is postulated that GPCATs contribute to the maintenance of PC homeostasis and also have specific functions in acyl editing of PC (e.g. in transferring acyl groups modified at the sn-2 position of PC to the sn-1 position of this molecule in plant cells).


  • Bartosz Głab
  • Mirela Beganovic
  • Sanket Anaokar
  • Mengshu Hao
  • Allan G. Rasmusson
  • Jana Patton-Vogt
  • Antoni Banaś
  • Sten Stymne
  • Ida Lager
External organisations
  • Medical University of Gdansk
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • University of Gdansk
  • Duquesne University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25066-25076
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number48
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Nov 25
Publication categoryResearch