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Dev Biol. 1997 Jan 1;181(1):79-90.

Analysis of cell movement and signalling during ring formation in an activated G alpha1 mutant of Dictyostelium discoideum that is defective in prestalk zone formation.

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Zoologisches Institut, Universit√§t M√ľnchen, Munich, Germany.


Mound formation in the cellular slime mould Dictyostelium results from the chemotactic aggregation of competent cells. Periodic cAMP signals propagate as multiarmed spiral waves and coordinate the movement of the cells. In the late aggregate stage the cells differentiate into prespore and several prestalk cell types. Prestalk cells sort out chemotactically to form the tip, which then controls all further development. The tip organises cell movement via a scroll wave that converts to planar waves in the prespore zone leading to rotational cell movement in the tip and periodic forward movement in the prespore zone. Expression of an activated G alpha1 protein under its own promoter leads to a severely altered morphogenesis from the mound stage onwards. Instead of forming a tipped mound, the cells form a ring-shaped structure without tip. Wave propagation pattern and dynamics during aggregation and mound formation in the mutant are indistinguishable from the parental strain AX3. However, at the time of tip formation the spiral waves that organise the late aggregate do not evolve in a scroll-organising centre in the tip but transform into a circularly closed (twisted) scroll ring wave. This leads to the formation of a doughnut-shaped aggregate. During further development, the doughnut increases in diameter and the twisted scroll wave converts into a train of planar waves, resulting in periodic rotational cell movement. Although biochemical consequences resulting from this mutation are still unclear, it must affect prestalk cell differentiation. The mutant produces the normal proportion of prespore cells but is unable to form functional prestalk cells, i.e., prestalk cells with an ability to sort out from the prespore cells and form a prestalk zone. Failure of sorting leads to an altered signal geometry, ring-shaped scroll waves, that then directs ring formation. This mutant demonstrates the importance of prestalk cell sorting for the stabilisation of the scroll wave that organises the tip.

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