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Development. 2002 Apr;129(7):1543-52.

A transcriptional profile of multicellular development in Dictyostelium discoideum.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston TX 77030, USA.


A distinct feature of development in the simple eukaryote Dictyostelium discoideum is an aggregative transition from a unicellular to a multicellular phase. Using genome-wide transcriptional analysis we show that this transition is accompanied by a dramatic change in the expression of more than 25% of the genes in the genome. We also show that the transcription patterns of these genes are not sensitive to the strain or the nutritional history, indicating that Dictyostelium development is a robust physiological process that is accompanied by stereotypical transcriptional events. Analysis of the two differentiated cell types, spores and stalk cells, and their precursors revealed a large number of differentially expressed genes as well as unexpected patterns of gene expression, which shed new light on the timing and possible mechanisms of cell-type divergence. Our findings provide new perspectives on the complexity of the developmental program and the fraction of the genome that is regulated during development.

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