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Biosystems. 2007 Apr;88(3):261-72. Epub 2006 Nov 10.

Input-output relationship in galvanotactic response of Dictyostelium cells.

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Laboratories for Nanobiology, Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences, Osaka University, 1-3 Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.


Under a direct current electric field, Dictyostelium cells exhibit migration towards the cathode. To determine the input-output relationship of the cell's galvanotactic response, we developed an experimental instrument in which electric signals applied to the cells are highly reproducible and the motile response are analyzed quantitatively. With no electric field, the cells moved randomly in all directions. Upon applying an electric field, cell migration speeds became about 1.3 times faster than those in the absence of an electric field. Such kinetic effects of electric fields on the migration were observed for cells stimulated between 0.25 and 10 V/cm of the field strength. The directions of cell migrations were biased toward the cathode in a positive manner with field strength, showing galvanotactic response in a dose-dependent manner. Quantitative analysis of the relationship between field strengths and directional movements revealed that the biased movements of the cells depend on the square of electric field strength, which can be described by one simple phenomenological equation. The threshold strength for the galvanotaxis was between 0.25 and 1 V/cm. Galvanotactic efficiency reached to half-maximum at 2.6 V/cm, which corresponds to an approximate 8 mV voltage difference between the cathode and anode direction of 10 microm wide, round cells. Based on these results, possible mechanisms of galvanotaxis in Dictyostelium cells were discussed. This development of experimental system, together with its good microscopic accessibility for intracellular signaling molecules, makes Dictyostelium cells attractive as a model organism for elucidating stochastic processes in the signaling systems responsible for cell motility and its regulations.

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