Identifying the molecular basis of functions in the transcriptome of the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum

T.J. Whitney, D.G. Gardner, M.L. Mott and M. Brandon
Published March 9, 2010
Genet. Mol. Res. 9 (1): 394-415 (2010)

About the Authors 
T.J. Whitney, D.G. Gardner, M.L. Mott and M. Brandon

Corresponding author:
M. Brandon


The unusual life cycle of Dictyostelium discoideum, in which an extra-cellular stressor such as starvation induces the development of a multicellular fruiting body consisting of stalk cells and spores from a culture of identical amoebae, provides an excellent model for investigating the molecular control of differentiation and the transition from single- to multi-cellular life, a key transition in development. We utilized serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE), a molecular method that is unbiased by dependence on previously identified genes, to obtain a transcriptome from a high-density culture of amoebae, in order to examine the transition to multi-cellular development. The SAGE method provides relative expression levels, which allows us to rank order the expressed genes. We found that a large number of ribosomal proteins were expressed at high levels, while various components of the proteosome were expressed at low levels. The only identifiable transmembrane signaling system components expressed in amoebae are related to quorum sensing, and their expression levels were relatively low. The most highly expressed gene in the amoeba transcriptome, dutA untranslated RNA, is a molecule with unknown function that may serve as an inhibitor of translation. These results suggest that high-density amoebae have not initiated development, and they also suggest a mechanism by which the transition into the development program is controlled.

Key words: Dictyostelium discoideum, Amoebae, Transcriptome, SAGE.

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