[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A major mechanism of translational regulation in response to a variety of stresses is mediated by phosphorylation of eIF2α to reduce delivery of initiator tRNAs to scanning ribosomes. For some mRNAs, often encoding a bZIP transcription factor, eIF2α phosphorylation leads to enhanced translation due to delayed reinitiation at upstream open reading frames. Dictyostelium cells possess at least three eIF2α kinases that regulate various portions of the starvation-induced developmental program. Cells possessing an eIF2α that cannot be phosphorylated (BS167) show abnormalities in growth and development. We sought to identify a bZIP protein in Dictyostelium whose production is controlled by the eIF2α regulatory system.
Cells disrupted in the bzpR gene had similar developmental defects as BS167 cells, including small entities, stalk defects, and reduced spore viability. β-galactosidase production was used to examine translation from mRNA containing the bzpR 5' UTR. While protein production was readily apparent and regulated temporally and spatially in wild type cells, essentially no β-galactosidase was produced in developing BS167 cells even though the lacZ mRNA levels were the same as those in wild type cells. Also, no protein production was observed in strains lacking IfkA or IfkB eIF2α kinases. GFP fusions, with appropriate internal controls, were used to directly demonstrate that the bzpR 5' UTR, possessing 7 uORFs, suppressed translation by 12 fold. Suppression occurred even when all but one uORF was deleted, and translational suppression was removed when the ATG of the single uORF was mutated.
The findings indicate that BzpR regulates aspects of the development program in Dictyostelium, serving as a downstream effector of eIF2α phosphorylation. Its production is temporally and spatially regulated by eIF2α phosphorylation by IfkA and IfkB and through the use of uORFs within the bzpR 5' UTR.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(3):e32500. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Growing Dictyostelium cells secrete CfaD and AprA, two proteins that have been characterized as chalones. They exist within a high-molecular-weight complex that reversibly inhibits cell proliferation, but not growth, via cell surface receptors and a signaling pathway that includes G proteins. How the production of these two proteins is regulated is unknown. Dictyostelium cells possess three GCN2-type eukaryotic initiation factor 2 α subunit (eIF2α) kinases, proteins that phosphorylate the translational initiation factor eIF2α and possess a tRNA binding domain involved in their regulation. The Dictyostelium kinases have been shown to function during development in regulating several processes. We show here that expression of an unregulated, activated kinase domain greatly inhibits cell proliferation. The inhibitory effect on proliferation is not due to a general inhibition of translation. Instead, it is due to enhanced production of a secreted factor(s). Indeed, extracellular CfaD and AprA proteins, but not their mRNAs, are overproduced in cells expressing the activated kinase domain. The inhibition of proliferation is not seen when the activated kinase domain is expressed in cells lacking CfaD or AprA or in cells that contain a nonphosphorylatable eIF2α. We conclude that production of the chalones CfaD and AprA is translationally regulated by eIF2α phosphorylation. Both proteins are upregulated at the culmination of development, and this enhanced production is lacking in a strain that possesses a nonphosphorylatable eIF2α.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: With the exception of vertebrates, most organisms have plasma membrane associated ammonium transporters which primarily serve to import a source of nitrogen for nutritional purposes. Dictyostelium discoideum has three ammonium transporters, Amts A, B and C. Our present work used fluorescent fusion proteins to determine the cellular localization of the Amts and tested the hypothesis that the transporters mediate removal of ammonia generated endogenously from the elevated protein catabolism common to many protists.
Using RFP and YFP fusion constructs driven by the actin 15 promoter, we found that the three ammonium transporters were localized on the plasma membrane and on the membranes of subcellular organelles. AmtA and AmtB were localized on the membranes of endolysosomes and phagosomes, with AmtB further localized on the membranes of contractile vacuoles. AmtC also was localized on subcellular organelles when it was stabilized by coexpression with either the AmtA or AmtB fusion transporter. The three ammonium transporters exported ammonia linearly with regard to time during the first 18 hours of the developmental program as revealed by reduced export in the null strains. The fluorescently tagged transporters rescued export when expressed in the null strains, and thus they were functional transporters.
Unlike ammonium transporters in most organisms, which import NH3/NH4+ as a nitrogen source, those of Dictyostelium export ammonia/ammonium as a waste product from extensive catabolism of exogenously derived and endogenous proteins. Localization on proteolytic organelles and on the neutral contractile vacuole suggests that Dictyostelium ammonium transporters may have unique subcellular functions and play a role in the maintenance of intracellular ammonium distribution. A lack of correlation between the null strain phenotypes and ammonia excretion properties of the ammonium transporters suggests that it is not the excretion function that is important for coupling ammonia levels to the slug versus culmination choice, but rather a sensor and/or signaling function of these proteins that is important.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The histidine kinase DhkC controls a phosphorelay involved in regulating the slug versus culmination choice during the multicellular developmental program of Dictyostelium discoideum. When the relay is active, slug migration is favored due to the activation of a cyclic AMP (cAMP) phosphodiesterase and the resultant lowering of the intracellular and extracellular levels of cAMP. Ammonia signaling represents one input into the DhkC phosphorelay, and previous studies indicated that the ammonium transporter C inhibits the relay in response to low ammonia levels. Evidence is presented that another member of the family of ammonium transporters, AmtA, also regulates the slug/culmination choice. Under standard conditions of development, the wild-type strain requires a transitional period of 2 to 3 h to go from fingers to culminants, with some slugs forming and migrating briefly prior to culmination. In contrast, amtA null cells, like cells that lack DhkC, possessed a transitional period of only 1 to 2 h and rarely formed slugs. Disruption of amtA in an amtC null strain overcame the slugger phenotype of that strain and restored its ability to culminate. Strains lacking AmtA were insensitive to the ability of ammonia to promote and prolong slug migration. These findings lead to the proposal that AmtA functions in ammonia sensing as an activator of the DhkC phosphorelay in response to perceived high ammonia levels.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ammonium transporter C (AmtC) is one of three transporters in Dictyostelium that have been proposed to regulate entry and exit of ammonia in a cell type dependent manner and to mediate ammonia signaling. Previous work demonstrated that disruption of the amtC gene results in a slugger phenotype in which the cells remain as migrating slugs when they should form fruiting bodies. More detailed studies on the null strain revealed that differentiation of prestalk cell types was delayed and maintenance of prestalk cell gene expression was defective. There was little or no expression of ecmB, a marker for the initiation of culmination. Normal expression of CudA, a nuclear protein required for culmination, was absent in the anterior prestalk zone. The absence of CudA within the tip region was attributable to the lack of nuclear localization of the transcription factor STATa, despite expression of adenylyl cyclase A mRNA in the slug tips. Disruption of the histidine kinase gene dhkC in the amtC null strain restored STATa and CudA expression and the ability to culminate. The results suggest that the lack of nuclear translocation of STATa results from low cAMP due to a misregulated and overactive DhkC phosphorelay in the amtC null strain.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ammonia is an important signaling molecule involved in the regulation of development in Dictyostelium. During aggregation, ammonia gradients are established, and the ammonia concentration in the immediate environment or within a particular cell throughout development may vary. This is due to the rate of cellular ammonia production, its rate of loss by evaporation to the atmosphere or by diffusion into the substratum, and perhaps to cellular transport by ammonium transporters (AMTs). Recent efforts in genome and cDNA sequencing have identified three ammonium transporters in Dictyostelium. In addition to physically altering the levels of ammonia within cells, AMTs also may play a role in ammonia signaling. As an initial step in identifying such a function, the temporal and spatial expression of the three amt genes is examined. RT-PCR demonstrates that each of the three amt mRNAs is present and relatively constant throughout growth and development. The spatial expression of these three amt genes is examined during multiple stages of Dictyostelium development using in situ hybridization. A distinct and dynamic pattern of expression is seen for the three genes. In general, amtA is expressed heavily in pre-stalk cells in a dynamic way, while amtB and amtC are expressed in pre-spore regions consistently throughout development. AmtC also is expressed in the most anterior tip of fingers and slugs, corresponding to cells that mediate ammonia's effect on the choice between slug migration and culmination. Indeed, amtC null cells have a slugger phenotype, suggesting AmtC functions in the signaling pathway underlying the mechanics of this choice.