Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 406, Issue 4, pp 995–1010 | Cite as

Characterization of glycosyl inositol phosphoryl ceramides from plants and fungi by mass spectrometry

  • Corinne BuréEmail author
  • Jean-Luc Cacas
  • Sébastien Mongrand
  • Jean-Marie Schmitter


Although glycosyl inositol phosphoryl ceramides (GIPCs) represent the most abundant class of sphingolipids in plants, they still remain poorly characterized in terms of structure and biodiversity. More than 50 years after their discovery, little is known about their subcellular distribution and their exact roles in membrane structure and biological functions. This review is focused on extraction and characterization methods of GIPCs occurring in plants and fungi. Global methods for characterizing ceramide moieties of GIPCs revealed the structures of long-chain bases (LCBs) and fatty acids (FAs): LCBs are dominated by tri-hydroxylated molecules such as monounsaturated and saturated phytosphingosine (t18:1 and t18:0, respectively) in plants and mainly phytosphingosine (t18:0 and t20:0) in fungi; FA are generally 14–26 carbon atoms long in plants and 16–26 carbon atoms long in fungi, these chains being often hydroxylated in position 2. Mass spectrometry plays a pivotal role in the assessment of GIPC diversity and the characterization of their structures. Indeed, it allowed to determine that the core structure of GIPC polar heads in plants is Hex(R1)-HexA-IPC, with R1 being a hydroxyl, an amine, or a N-acetylamine group, whereas the core structure in fungi is Man-IPC. Notably, information gained from tandem mass spectrometry spectra was most useful to describe the huge variety of structures encountered in plants and fungi and reveal GIPCs with yet uncharacterized polar head structures, such as hexose–inositol phosphoceramide in Chondracanthus acicularis and (hexuronic acid)4–inositol phosphoceramide and hexose–(hexuronic acid)3–inositol phosphoceramide in Ulva lactuca.


Example of GIPC with its three building blocks (fatty acid, FA; long chain base, LCB; polar head) where R1 could be a hydroxyl, an amine or a N-acetylamine group


Glycosyl inositol phosphoryl ceramide Plants Fungi Sphingolipids Mass spectrometry 



Collision-induced dissociation




Electrospray ionization


Fatty acid


Fatty acid methyl ester




Glycosyl inositol phosphoryl ceramide


Glucuronic acid




N-acetyl glucosamine




Inositol phosphoryl ceramide


Ion trap


Long-chain base


Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization




Multiple reaction monitoring


Tandem mass spectrometry






Total ion current


Time of flight



The work was supported by the French Agence Nationale pour la Recherche (contract no. NT09_517917 PANACEA).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Corinne Buré
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jean-Luc Cacas
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sébastien Mongrand
    • 2
  • Jean-Marie Schmitter
    • 1
  1. 1.Université de Bordeaux, Chimie Biologie des Membranes et Nanoobjets CBMN-UMR 5248 Centre de Génomique FonctionnelleUniversité Bordeaux SegalenBordeaux CedexFrance
  2. 2.Université de Bordeaux, Laboratoire de Biogenèse MembranaireUMR 5200 CNRS-Université Bordeaux SegalenVillenave-d’Ornon CedexFrance
  3. 3.UMR1347 Agroécologie, INRA/Université de Bourgogne/AgrosupPôle Interactions Plante-MicroorganismeDijonFrance

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