The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 63: 395 - 405 (2019)

Vol 63, Issue 8-9-10

Special Issue: The Dictyostelium model system

Extracellular signaling in Dictyostelium

Published: 11 December 2019

Kristen M. Consalvo, Ramesh Rijal, Yu Tang, Sara A. Kirolos, Morgan R. Smith and Richard H. Gomer*

Department of Biology, Texas A∧M University, College Station, Texas, USA


In the last few decades, we have learned a considerable amount about how eukaryotic cells communicate with each other, and what it is the cells are telling each other. The simplicity of Dictyostelium discoideum, and the wide variety of available tools to study this organism, makes it the equivalent of a hydrogen atom for cell and developmental biology. Studies using Dictyostelium have pioneered a good deal of our understanding of eukaryotic cell communication. In this review, we will present a brief overview of how Dictyostelium cells use extracellular signals to attract each other, repel each other, sense their local cell density, sense whether the nearby cells are starving or stressed, count themselves to organize the formation of structures containing a regulated number of cells, sense the volume they are in, and organize their multicellular development. Although we are probably just beginning to learn what the cells are telling each other, the elucidation of Dictyostelium extracellular signals has already led to the development of possible therapeutics for human diseases.


chemoattractant, chemorepellent, proliferation regulation, development regulator, secreted factor

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