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EMBO Rep. 2006 Jul;7(7):694-8.

Transcriptional regulation of Dictyostelium pattern formation.

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School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dow Street, Dundee DD1 5EH, UK.


On starvation, Dictyostelium cells form a terminally differentiated structure, known as the fruiting body, which comprises stalk and spore cells. Their precursors--prestalk and prespore cells--are spatially separated and accessible in a migratory structure known as the slug. This simplicity and manipulability has made Dictyostelium attractive to both experimental and theoretical developmental biologists. However, this outward simplicity conceals a surprising degree of developmental sophistication. Multiple prestalk subtypes are formed and undertake a co-ordinated series of morphogenetic cell movements to generate the fruiting body. This review describes recent advances in understanding the signalling pathways that generate prestalk-cell heterogeneity, focusing on the roles of the prestalk-cell inducer differentiation-inducing factor-1 (DIF-1), the tip inducer cAMP and the transcription factors that mediate their actions; these include signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) proteins, basic leucine zipper (bZIP) proteins and a Myb protein of a class previously described only in plants.

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