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PIG gene family

Reviewed August 2013

What are the PIG genes?

The genes in this family provide instructions for making proteins that are involved in the production (biosynthesis) of molecules called phosphatidylinositol glycan anchors (commonly called GPI anchors). GPI anchors attach (bind) to various proteins and anchor them to the outer surface of cell membranes. This anchoring is necessary for the functioning of most cells and to ensure the availability of the proteins at the cell surface, but the specific purpose of the anchoring is largely unknown.

The biosynthesis of GPI anchors occurs in a series of steps that take place in the endoplasmic reticulum, which is a structure involved in protein processing and transport within cells. The first step occurs when a group of phosphatidylinositol glycan (PIG) proteins come together to form an enzyme complex and create the basic structure of a GPI anchor. In subsequent steps, PIG proteins add various molecules, including sugars and fats, to the growing GPI anchor. Lastly, PIG proteins form an enzyme complex called GPI transamidase that brings together complete GPI anchors with the proteins that bind to them. The GPI-anchor associated protein is transferred to a cell structure called the Golgi apparatus, which modifies newly produced enzymes and other proteins, for further refining. From the Golgi apparatus, the protein is transported, then anchored, to the surface of the cell membrane.

Mutations in several PIG genes in the phosphatidylinositol glycan anchor biosynthesis pathway can cause genetic disorders. An error in anchor biosynthesis results in an incomplete GPI anchor that cannot attach to proteins. A lack of GPI anchoring prevents certain proteins from being attached to the cell membrane and results in their abnormal release from the cell, leading to unusually high amounts of that protein in the blood. For example, mutations in the PIGO or PIGV gene cause Mabry syndrome, a condition characterized by intellectual disability, distinctive facial features, and increased levels of an enzyme called alkaline phosphatase in the blood (hyperphosphatasia).

Which genes are included in the PIG gene family?

The HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) provides an index of gene familiesThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference. and their member genes.

Genetics Home Reference summarizes the normal function and health implications of these members of the PIG gene family: PIGA, PIGO, and PIGV.

What conditions are related to genes in the PIG gene family?

Genetics Home Reference includes these conditions related to genes in the PIG gene family:

Where can I find additional information about the PIG gene family?

Where can I find general information about genes and gene families?

The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.

What glossary definitions help with understanding the PIG gene family?

cell ; cell membrane ; class ; disability ; endoplasmic reticulum ; enzyme ; gene ; glycan ; Golgi apparatus ; phosphatase ; protein ; syndrome

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.

See also Understanding Medical Terminology.

References (5 links)


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.

Reviewed: August 2013
Published: February 8, 2016