The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 61: 35 - 42 (2017)

Vol 61, Issue 1-2

YelA, a putative Dictyostelium translational regulator, acts as antagonist of DIF-1 signaling to control cell-type proportioning

Original Article | Published: 31 October 2016

Yoko Yamada*, Chris Sugden and Jeffrey G. Williams

School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK


DIF-1 (differentiation-inducing factor1) is a polyketide produced by Dictyostelium prespore cells which induces initially uncommitted cells to differentiate as prestalk cells. Exposure of cells to DIF-1 causes transitory hypo-phosphorylation of seven serine residues in YelA, a protein with a region of strong homology to the MIF4G domain of the eukaryotic initiation factor eIF4G. Based upon its domain architecture, which in one important aspect closely resembles that of Death-Associated Protein 5 (DAP5), we predict a role in stimulating internal ribosome entry-driven mRNA translation. The two paradigmatic DIF-1 inducible genes are ecmA (extracellular matrixA) and ecmB. In support of a YelA function in DIF-1 signaling, a YelA null strain showed greatly increased expression of ecmA and ecmB in response to DIF-1. Also, during normal development in the null strain, expression of the two genes is accelerated. This is particularly evident for ecmB, a marker of stalk tube and supporting structure differentiation. Mutants in DIF-1 bio-synthesis or signaling display a rudimentary or no basal disc and, conversely, YelA null mutants produce fruiting bodies with a highly enlarged basal disc that ectopically expresses a stalk tube-specific marker. Thus YelA acts as an antagonist of DIF-1 signaling, with a consequent effect on cell type proportioning and it is predicted to act as a translational regulator.


Dictyostelium, DIF-1, MIF4G domain, translational regulation, DAP5

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