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Biol Open. 2014 May 29;3(6):553-60. doi: 10.1242/bio.20148359.

Defects in the synthetic pathway prevent DIF-1 mediated stalk lineage specification cascade in the non-differentiating social amoeba, Acytostelium subglobosum.

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Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8572, Japan.
Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Tohoku University, Aoba-yama, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8578, Japan.
Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8572, Japan


Separation of somatic cells from germ-line cells is a crucial event for multicellular organisms, but how this step was achieved during evolution remains elusive. In Dictyostelium discoideum and many other dictyostelid species, solitary amoebae gather and form a multicellular fruiting body in which germ-line spores and somatic stalk cells differentiate, whereas in Acytostelium subglobosum, acellular stalks form and all aggregated amoebae become spores. In this study, because most D. discoideum genes known to be required for stalk cell differentiation have homologs in A. subglobosum, we inferred functional variations in these genes and examined conservation of the stalk cell specification cascade of D. discoideum mediated by the polyketide differentiation-inducing factor-1 (DIF-1) in A. subglobosum. Through heterologous expression of A. subglobosum orthologs of DIF-1 biosynthesis genes in D. discoideum, we confirmed that two of the three genes were functional equivalents, while DIF-methyltransferase (As-dmtA) involved at the final step of DIF-1 synthesis was not. In fact, DIF-1 activity was undetectable in A. subglobosum lysates and amoebae of this species were not responsive to DIF-1, suggesting a lack of DIF-1 production in this species. On the other hand, the molecular function of an A. subglobosum ortholog of DIF-1 responsive transcription factor was equivalent with that of D. discoideum and inhibition of polyketide synthesis caused developmental arrest in A. subglobosum, which could not be rescued by DIF-1 addition. These results suggest that non-DIF-1 polyketide cascades involving downstream transcription factors are required for fruiting body development of A. subglobosum.


Cell differentiation; Cellular slime mold; Functional complementation; Gene expression; Polyketide signaling

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