Patterns in Dictyostelium discoideum: the role of myosin II in the transition from the unicellular to the multicellular phase

Susannah Eliott, Gregory H. Joss, Annamma Spudich, Keith L. Williams

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Dictyostelium discoideum amoebae which lack the myosin II gene are motile and aggregate to form rudimentary mounds, but do not undergo further morphological development (Manstein et al., 1989). Here we use scanning electron microscopy, light microscopy, immunofluorescence and computer analysis of timelapse video films to study how D. discoideum myosin null cells of strains HS2205 and HS2206 aggregate. Myosin null cells are sufficiently coordinated in their movements to form two-dimensional aggregation streams, although mutant cells within streams lack the elongated shape and parallel orientation of wild-type strains. In the wild-type, cell movements are coordinated, cells usually joining streams that spiral inwards and upwards as the mound extends into the standing papilla. In the aggregates of mutant strains, cell movements are chaotic, only occasionally forming short-term spirals that rotate at less than half the speed of wild-type spirals and frequently change direction. Unlike the situation in the wild-type where spirals continue with mound elongation, cells within the mutant mound eventually cease translocation altogether as the terminal shape of the mound is reached and only intracellular particle movement is observed. Scanning electron micrographs show that the surface of the wild-type mound consists of flattened cells which fit nearly together. The myosin null cell mound has an uneven surface, the orientation of the cells is chaotic and no tip is formed. This is consistent with the results of synergy experiments in which myosin null cells were absent from the tips of chimeric HS2205/AX2 slugs and pre-culminates. Immunofluorescence microscopy using prespore and spore cell markers reveals that a prestalk/prespore pattern forms within the mutant mound but that terminal spore differentiation is incomplete. These results are discussed in relation to the role of myosin II in aggregation and morphogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-466
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1993


  • cytoskeleton
  • Dictyostelium development
  • morphogenesis
  • myosin II


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