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Dev Biol. 2011 Apr 1;352(1):48-57. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2011.01.014. Epub 2011 Jan 21.

Origin and function of the stalk-cell vacuole in Dictyostelium.

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Department of Botany, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan.


Large vacuoles are characteristic of plant and fungal cells, and their origin has long attracted interest. The cellular slime mould provides a unique opportunity to study the de novo formation of vacuoles because, in its life cycle, a subset of the highly motile animal-like cells (prestalk cells) rapidly develops a single large vacuole and cellulosic cell wall to become plant-like cells (stalk cells). Here we describe the origin and process of vacuole formation using live-imaging of Dictyostelium cells expressing GFP-tagged ammonium transporter A (AmtA-GFP), which was found to reside on the membrane of stalk-cell vacuoles. We show that stalk-cell vacuoles originate from acidic vesicles and autophagosomes, which fuse to form autolysosomes. Their repeated fusion and expansion accompanied by concomitant cell wall formation enable the stalk cells to rapidly develop turgor pressure necessary to make the rigid stalk to hold the spores aloft. Contractile vacuoles, which are rich in H(+)-ATPase as in plant vacuoles, remained separate from these vacuoles. We further argue that AmtA may play an important role in the control of stalk-cell differentiation by modulating the pH of autolysosomes.

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