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Dev Biol. 1989 Dec;136(2):517-25.

Transduction of the chemotactic signal to the actin cytoskeleton of Dictyostelium discoideum.

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Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York 10461.


Dictyostelium discoideum amebae chemotax toward folate during vegetative growth and toward extracellular cAMP during the aggregation phase that follows starvation. Stimulation of starving amebae with extracellular cAMP leads to both actin polymerization and pseudopod extension (Hall et al., 1988, J. Cell. Biochem. 37, 285-299). We have identified an actin nucleation activity (NA) from starving amebae that is regulated by cAMP receptors and controls actin polymerization (Hall et al., 1989, J. Cell Biol., in press). We show here that NA from vegetative cells is also regulated by chemotactic receptors for folate. Our studies indicate that NA is an essential effector in control of the actin cytoskeleton by chemotactic receptors. Guided by a recently proposed model for signal transduction from the cAMP receptor (Snaar-Jagalska et al., 1988, Dev. Genet. 9, 215-225), we investigated which of three signaling pathways activates the NA effector. Treatment of whole cells with a commercial pertussis toxin preparation (PT) inhibited cAMP-stimulated NA. However, endotoxin contamination of the PT appears to account for this effect. The synag7 mutation and caffeine treatment do not inhibit activation of NA by cAMP. Thus, neither activation of adenylate cyclase nor a G protein sensitive to PT treatment of whole cells is necessary for the NA response. Actin nucleation activity stimulated with folate is normal in vegetative fgdA cells. However, cAMP suppresses rather than activates NA in starving fgdA cells. This indicates that the components of the actin nucleation effector are present and that a pathway regulating the inhibitor(s) of nucleation remains functional in starving fgdA cells. The locus of the fgdA defect, a G protein implicated in phospholipase C activation, is directly or indirectly responsible for transduction of the stimulatory chemotactic signal from cAMP receptors to the nucleation effector in Dictyostelium.

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