In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae an amphiphilic cAMP-binding protein has been found recently to be anchored to plasma membranes by virtue of a glycolipid structure (Müller and Bandlow, 1991a, 1992). The cAMP-binding parameters of this protein are affected by the lipolytic removal of the glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) membrane anchor by exogenous (G)PI-specific phospholipases C or D (PLC or PLD) (Müller and Bandlow, 1993) suggesting a regulatory role of glycolipidic membrane anchorage. Here we report that transfer of yeast cells from lactate to glucose medium results in the conversion of the amphiphilic form of the cAMP receptor protein into a hydrophilic version accompanied by the rapid loss of fatty acids from the GPI anchor of the [14C]palmitic acid-labeled protein. Analysis of the cleavage site identifies [14C]inositol phosphate as the major product after treatment of the soluble, [14C]inositol-labeled protein with nitrous acid which destroys the glucosamine constituent of the anchor. Together with the observed cross-reactivity of the hydrophilic fragment with antibodies directed against the cross-reacting determinant of soluble trypanosomal variable surface glycoproteins (i.e., myo-inositol-1,2-cyclic phosphate) this demonstrates that, in membrane release, the initial cleavage event is catalyzed by an intrinsic GPI-PLC activated upon transfer of cells to glucose medium. Release from the plasma membrane in soluble form requires, in addition, the presence of high salt or alpha-methyl mannopyranoside, or the removal of the carbohydrate moieties, because otherwise the protein remains associated with the membrane presumably at least in part via its N-glycosidic carbohydrate side chains. The data point to the possibility that cleavage of the anchor could play a role in the transfer of the signal for the nutritional situation to the interior of the cell.

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