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Mol Biol Cell. 2005 Feb;16(2):676-88. Epub 2004 Nov 24.

Quantitative imaging of single live cells reveals spatiotemporal dynamics of multistep signaling events of chemoattractant gradient sensing in Dictyostelium.

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Laboratory of Immunogenetics, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, MD 20852, USA.


Activation of G-protein-coupled chemoattractant receptors triggers dissociation of Galpha and Gbetagamma subunits. These subunits induce intracellular responses that can be highly polarized when a cell experiences a gradient of chemoattractant. Exactly how a cell achieves this amplified signal polarization is still not well understood. Here, we quantitatively measure temporal and spatial changes of receptor occupancy, G-protein activation by FRET imaging, and PIP3 levels by monitoring the dynamics of PH(Crac)-GFP translocation in single living cells in response to different chemoattractant fields. Our results provided the first direct evidence that G-proteins are activated to different extents on the cell surface in response to asymmetrical stimulations. A stronger, uniformly applied stimulation triggers not only a stronger G-protein activation but also a faster adaptation of downstream responses. When naive cells (which have not experienced chemoattractant) were abruptly exposed to stable cAMP gradients, G-proteins were persistently activated throughout the entire cell surface, whereas the response of PH(Crac)-GFP translocation surprisingly consisted of two phases, an initial transient and asymmetrical translocation around the cell membrane, followed by a second phase producing a highly polarized distribution of PH(Crac)-GFP. We propose a revised model of gradient sensing, suggesting an important role for locally controlled components that inhibit PI3Kinase activity.

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