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J Exp Biol. 1999 Jan;202(Pt 1):1-12.

Chemotactic responses of Dictyostelium discoideum amoebae to a cyclic AMP concentration gradient: evidence to support a spatial mechanism for sensing cyclic AMP.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Graduate College of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo, Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153, Japan. tani@pbrc.hawaii.edu


The motile responses of Dictyostelium discoideum amoebae to a cyclic AMP (cAMP) concentration gradient were examined using a novel assay system. In this system, a cAMP concentration gradient was generated, while the overall cAMP concentration could be either increased or decreased in a chamber containing amoebae. The chemotactic responses of amoebae were examined immediately after they had been subjected to the cAMP concentration gradient. Amoebae moving in random directions in a reference solution ascended a cAMP concentration gradient after they had been exposed to the gradient irrespective of whether there was an increase or a decrease in the overall cAMP concentration. This strongly supports the idea that D. discoideum amoebae can sense a spatial cAMP gradient around them and that this causes their chemoaccumulation behavior. Ascending locomotion became less conspicuous when the amoebae were treated with a homogeneous cAMP solution for approximately 8 min before exposure to a cAMP gradient. This cAMP pretreatment reduced the sensitivity of the amoeba to a cAMP concentration gradient. The cAMP concentration gradient could be reversed in less than 30 s in this assay system, allowing the generation of a cAMP wave by accumulating amoebae to be mimicked. The ascending amoebae continued to move in the same direction for 1-2 min after the gradient had been reversed. This is consistent with the well-known observation that reversal of a cAMP concentration gradient experienced by the amoebae passing through a cAMP wave does not negate their chemotactic movement towards the accumulation center.

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