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Partitioning of the response to cAMP via two specific Ras proteins during Dictyostelium discoideum development Bolourani, Parvin

Abstract

Following starvation, Dictyostelium discoideum cells aggregate, a response that requires chemotaxis to cyclic AMP (cAMP) and the relay of the cAMP signal by the activation of adenylyl cyclase (ACA). Insertional inactivation of the rasG gene resulted in delayed aggregation and a partial inhibition of early gene expression, suggesting that RasG does have a role in early development. When the responses of rasG⁻ cells to cAMP were compared with the responses of rasC⁻ strain, these studies revealed that signal transduction through RasG is more important in chemotaxis and early gene expression, but that signal transduction through RasC is more important in ACA activation. Characterization of a rasC⁻/rasG⁻ mutant revealed that both cAMP chemotaxis and adenylyl cyclase (ACA) activation were negligible in this strain. The ectopic expression of carA from the actin 15 promoter restored early developmental gene expression to the rasC⁻/rasG⁻ strain, rendering it suitable for an analysis of cAMP signal transduction. Since there was negligible signaling through either the cAMP chemotactic pathway or the adenylyl cyclase activation pathway in this strain, it is clear that RasG and RasC are the only two Ras subfamily proteins that directly control these pathways. The mutational analysis of Switch I and Switch II regions also defined the key residues that generate functional differences between RasC and RasG. Rap1 is also activated in response to cAMP but its position in the signal transduction cascade was clarified by the finding that its activation was totally abolished in rasC⁻/rasG⁻/[act15]:carA and in rasG⁻ cells, but only slightly reduced in rasC⁻ cells. The finding that in vitro guanylyl cyclase activation is also abolished in the rasC/rasG⁻4act15]:carA strain identifies RasG⁻/RasC⁻ as the presumptive monomeric GTPases required for this activation. The phenotypes of the vegetative ras null mutants were also examined. The results indicate that RasG plays an important role in cytokinesis. The partial absence of chemotaxis to folate in rase cells compared to the total absence of chemotaxis to folate in rasC⁻/rasG⁻, and rasC⁻/rasG⁻/[act15]:carA cells suggests a compensatory role of RasC for RasG during this process, a similar phenomenon to that observed for cAMP chemotaxis by aggregating cells.

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