The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 44: 491 - 498 (2000)

Vol 44, Issue 5

A cell type-specific effect of calcium on pattern formation and differentiation in Dictyostelium discoideum

Published: 30 November -0001

R Baskar, P Chhabra, P Mascarenhas and V Nanjundiah

Department of Molecular Reproduction, Development and Genetics, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.


Spatial gradients of sequestered and free cellular calcium (Ca2+) exist in the slug of Dictyostelium discoideum (Maeda and Maeda, 1973; Tirlapur et al., 1991; Azhar et al., 1995; Cubitt et al., 1995). When we vary intracellular Ca2+ with the help of calcium buffers and the ionophore Br-A23187, there are striking effects on slug morphology, patterning and cell differentiation. In the presence of a calcium ionophore, high external Ca2+ levels lead to an increase of intracellular sequestered and free Ca2+, the formation of long slugs, a decrease in the fraction of genetically defined prespore cells and 'stalky' fruiting bodies. Conversely, a lowering of external Ca2+ levels results in a decrease of intracellular Ca2+, the formation of short slugs, an increase in the prespore fraction and 'spory' fruiting bodies. We infer that Ca2+ plays a significant morphogenetic role in D. discoideum development, by selectively promoting the prestalk pathway relative to the prespore pathway.

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