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Eukaryot Cell. 2003 Jun;2(3):627-37.

Changing patterns of gene expression in dictyostelium prestalk cell subtypes recognized by in situ hybridization with genes from microarray analyses.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Graduate School of Science, Osaka University, Toyonaka, Osaka, Japan. mmaeda@bio.sci.osaka-u.ac.jp


We used microarrays carrying most of the genes that are developmentally regulated in Dictyostelium to discover those that are preferentially expressed in prestalk cells. Prestalk cells are localized at the front of slugs and play crucial roles in morphogenesis and slug migration. Using whole-mount in situ hybridization, we were able to verify 104 prestalk genes. Three of these were found to be expressed only in cells at the very front of slugs, the PstA cell type. Another 10 genes were found to be expressed in the small number of cells that form a central core at the anterior, the PstAB cell type. The rest of the prestalk-specific genes are expressed in PstO cells, which are found immediately posterior to PstA cells but anterior to 80% of the slug that consists of prespore cells. Half of these are also expressed in PstA cells. At later stages of development, the patterns of expression of a considerable number of these prestalk genes changes significantly, allowing us to further subdivide them. Some are expressed at much higher levels during culmination, while others are repressed. These results demonstrate the extremely dynamic nature of cell-type-specific expression in Dictyostelium and further define the changing physiology of the cell types. One of the signals that affect gene expression in PstO cells is the hexaphenone DIF-1. We found that expression of about half of the PstO-specific genes were affected in a mutant that is unable to synthesize DIF-1, while the rest appeared to be DIF independent. These results indicate that differentiation of some aspects of PstO cells can occur in the absence of DIF-1.

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