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Dev Biol. 2000 Nov 1;227(1):56-64.

Cell-fate choice in Dictyostelium: intrinsic biases modulate sensitivity to DIF signaling.

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MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 2QH, England.


Cell fate in Dictyostelium development depends on intrinsic differences between cells, dating from their growth period, and on cell interactions occurring during development. We have sought for a mechanism linking these two influences on cell fate. First, we confirmed earlier work showing that the vegetative differences are biases, not commitments, since cells that are stalky-biased when developed with one partner are sporey with another. Then we tested the idea that these biases operate by modulating the sensitivity of cells to the signals controlling cell fate during development. Cells grown without glucose are stalky-biased when developed with cells grown with glucose. We find, using monolayer culture conditions, that they are more sensitive to each of the stalk-inducing signals, DIFs 1-3. Mixing experiments show that this bias is a cell-intrinsic property. Cells initiating development early in the cell cycle are stalky compared to those initiating development later in the cycle. Likewise, they are more sensitive to DIF-1. Assays of standard markers for prestalk and prespore cell differentiation reveal similar differences in DIF-1 sensitivity between biased cells; DIF-1 dechlorinase (an early prestalk cell marker enzyme) behaves in a consistent manner. We propose that cell-fate biases are manifest as differences in sensitivity to DIF.

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