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Loss of Inositol Phosphorylceramide Sphingolipid Mannosylation Induces Plant Immune Responses and Reduces Cellulose Content in Arabidopsis

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Glycosylinositol phosphorylceramides (GIPCs) are a class of glycosylated sphingolipids found in plants, fungi, and protozoa. These lipids are abundant in the plant plasma membrane, forming ∼25% of total plasma membrane lipids. Little is known about the function of the glycosylated headgroup, but two recent studies have indicated that they play a key role in plant signaling and defense. Here, we show that a member of glycosyltransferase family 64, previously named ECTOPICALLY PARTING CELLS1, is likely a Golgi-localized GIPC-specific mannosyl-transferase, which we renamed GIPC MANNOSYL-TRANSFERASE1 (GMT1). Sphingolipid analysis revealed that the Arabidopsis thaliana gmt1 mutant almost completely lacks mannose-carrying GIPCs. Heterologous expression of GMT1 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) cv Bright Yellow 2 resulted in the production of non-native mannosylated GIPCs. gmt1 displays a severe dwarfed phenotype and a constitutive hypersensitive response characterized by elevated salicylic acid and hydrogen peroxide levels, similar to that we previously reported for the Golgi-localized, GIPC-specific, GDP-Man transporter GONST1 (Mortimer et al., 2013). Unexpectedly, we show that gmt1 cell walls have a reduction in cellulose content, although other matrix polysaccharides are unchanged.

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