Differentiation-inducing factor from the slime mould Dictyostelium discoideum and its analogues. Synthesis, structure and biological activity.
ABSTRACT: Previous work has led to the identification of a novel class of effector molecules [DIFs (differentiation-inducing factors) 1-3] released from the slime mould Dictyostelium discoideum. These substances induce stalk-cell differentiation in Dictyostelium discoideum and are thought to act as morphogens in the generation of the prestalk/prespore pattern during development. The DIFs are phenylalkan-1-ones, with chloro, hydroxy and methoxy substitution on the benzene ring. DIFs 1-3 and a number of their analogues have been synthesized by using a simple two-step procedure, and each analogue has been characterized by m.s., u.v. and n.m.r. spectroscopy. The crystal structure of synthetic DIF-1 [1-(3,5-dichloro-2,6-dihydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl)hexan-1-one, was investigated. The specific biological activity of each analogue was determined in a bioassay, where isolated Dictyostelium amoebae are induced to differentiate into stalk cells. The major biologically active substance, DIF-1, caused 50% stalk-cell differentiation at 1.8 x 10(-10) M; the C4 alkyl homologue (DIF-2) and C6 homologue possessed 40 and 16% of the activity of DIF-1 respectively. Further increase or decrease in the alkyl chain length resulted in a marked decrease in specific activity. The pattern of substitution on the benzene ring is a major determinant of bioactivity, since the specific activities of the 2,4-dihydroxy-6-methoxy and trihydroxy analogues were less than 1% of that of DIF-1. Substitution of bromine in DIF-1 had little effect on bioactivity; in contrast the activity of monochloro-DIF-1 (DIF-3) was diminished. There was no evidence for antagonism or synergy between DIF-1 and any of its analogues. This series of analogues will facilitate further studies in the biological effects and mode of action of DIF-1.
Project description:Two endogenous differentiation-inducing factors (DIF-2 and DIF-3), which induce stalk-cell differentiation in the cellular slime mould Dictyostelium discoideum, have been identified as the pentan-1-one and monochloro analogues respectively of (1-[(3,5-dichloro-2,6-dihydroxy-4-methoxy)phenyl]hexan-1-one). These compounds represent a new chemical class of effector molecules.
Project description:In the development of the cellular slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum, two chlorinated compounds, the differentiation-inducing factors DIF-1 and DIF-2, play important roles in the regulation of both cell differentiation and chemotactic cell movement. However, the receptors of DIFs and the components of DIF signaling systems have not previously been elucidated. To identify the receptors for DIF-1 and DIF-2, we here performed DIF-conjugated affinity gel chromatography and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and identified the glutathione S-transferase GST4 as a major DIF-binding protein. Knockout and overexpression mutants of gst4 (gst4- and gst4OE, respectively) formed fruiting bodies, but the fruiting bodies of gst4- cells were smaller than those of wild-type Ax2 cells, and those of gst4OE cells were larger than those of Ax2 cells. Both chemotaxis regulation and in vitro stalk cell formation by DIFs in the gst4 mutants were similar to those of Ax2 cells. These results suggest that GST4 is a DIF-binding protein that regulates the sizes of cell aggregates and fruiting bodies in D. discoideum.
Project description:The primitive slime mold Dictyostelium minutum does not display oscillations during aggregation, cannot form migrating slugs, and does not form a prestalk/prespore pattern, all of which are characteristic for development of its advanced relative Dictyostelium discoideum. We used D. minutum to investigate whether slime molds share common mechanisms controlling development. In D. discoideum, the morphogen differentiation inducing factor (DIF) can induce stalk-cell differentiation in vitro. However, stalk formation in vivo is supposedly triggered by local depletion of DIF antagonists such as ammonia or cAMP. A homologue of the D. discoideum stalk gene ecmB was cloned in D. minutum that encodes a 3.4-kb mRNA, and its deduced amino acid sequence shows repeats of 24 amino acids that are characteristic for the D. discoideum ecmB gene. Remarkably, DIF effectively induces expression of the D. minutum ecmB gene and ammonia inhibits its expression. D. discoideum cells were transformed with a construct of the D. minutum ecmB promoter fused to the lacZ reporter gene and showed expression in the stalk, but not in the upper and lower cup of the fruiting body, which also express the D. discoideum ecmB gene. In D. discoideum, the D. minutum ecmB and the ecmB promoter are similarly activated by DIF and repressed by both cAMP and ammonia, suggesting that additional signaling is required for ecmB expression in upper and lower cup cells. Our data indicate that the extracellular signals controlling stalk formation and their intracellular signaling cascades including gene regulatory proteins remained highly conserved during slime mold evolution.
Project description:Separation of somatic cells from germ-line cells is a crucial event for multicellular organisms, but how this step was achieved during evolution remains elusive. In Dictyostelium discoideum and many other dictyostelid species, solitary amoebae gather and form a multicellular fruiting body in which germ-line spores and somatic stalk cells differentiate, whereas in Acytostelium subglobosum, acellular stalks form and all aggregated amoebae become spores. In this study, because most D. discoideum genes known to be required for stalk cell differentiation have homologs in A. subglobosum, we inferred functional variations in these genes and examined conservation of the stalk cell specification cascade of D. discoideum mediated by the polyketide differentiation-inducing factor-1 (DIF-1) in A. subglobosum. Through heterologous expression of A. subglobosum orthologs of DIF-1 biosynthesis genes in D. discoideum, we confirmed that two of the three genes were functional equivalents, while DIF-methyltransferase (As-dmtA) involved at the final step of DIF-1 synthesis was not. In fact, DIF-1 activity was undetectable in A. subglobosum lysates and amoebae of this species were not responsive to DIF-1, suggesting a lack of DIF-1 production in this species. On the other hand, the molecular function of an A. subglobosum ortholog of DIF-1 responsive transcription factor was equivalent with that of D. discoideum and inhibition of polyketide synthesis caused developmental arrest in A. subglobosum, which could not be rescued by DIF-1 addition. These results suggest that non-DIF-1 polyketide cascades involving downstream transcription factors are required for fruiting body development of A. subglobosum.
Project description:Differentiation-inducing factors (DIFs) are well known to modulate formation of distinct communal cell types from identical Dictyostelium discoideum amoebas, but DIF biosynthesis remains obscure. We report complimentary in vivo and in vitro experiments identifying one of two approximately 3,000-residue D. discoideum proteins, termed 'steely', as responsible for biosynthesis of the DIF acylphloroglucinol scaffold. Steely proteins possess six catalytic domains homologous to metazoan type I fatty acid synthases (FASs) but feature an iterative type III polyketide synthase (PKS) in place of the expected FAS C-terminal thioesterase used to off load fatty acid products. This new domain arrangement likely facilitates covalent transfer of steely N-terminal acyl products directly to the C-terminal type III PKS active sites, which catalyze both iterative polyketide extension and cyclization. The crystal structure of a steely C-terminal domain confirms conservation of the homodimeric type III PKS fold. These findings suggest new bioengineering strategies for expanding the scope of fatty acid and polyketide biosynthesis.
Project description:Cyclic di-(3?:5?)-guanosine monophosphate (c-di-GMP) is a major prokaryote signalling intermediate that is synthesized by diguanylate cyclases and triggers sessility and biofilm formation. We detected the first eukaryote diguanylate cyclases in all major groups of Dictyostelia. On food depletion, Dictyostelium discoideum amoebas collect into aggregates, which first transform into migrating slugs and then into sessile fruiting structures. These structures consist of a spherical spore mass that is supported by a column of stalk cells and a basal disk. A polyketide, DIF-1, which induces stalk-like cells in vitro, was isolated earlier. However, its role in vivo proved recently to be restricted to basal disk formation. Here we show that the Dictyostelium diguanylate cyclase, DgcA, produces c-di-GMP as the morphogen responsible for stalk cell differentiation. Dictyostelium discoideum DgcA synthesized c-di-GMP in a GTP-dependent manner and was expressed at the slug tip, which is the site of stalk cell differentiation. Disruption of the DgcA gene blocked the transition from slug migration to fructification and the expression of stalk genes. Fructification and stalk formation were restored by exposing DgcA-null slugs to wild-type secretion products or to c-di-GMP. Moreover, c-di-GMP, but not cyclic di-(3?:5?)-adenosine monophosphate, induced stalk gene expression in dilute cell monolayers. Apart from identifying the long-elusive stalk-inducing morphogen, our work also identifies a role for c-di-GMP in eukaryotes.
Project description:DIF-1 [Differentiation-Inducing Factor 1; 1-(3,5-dichloro-2,6-dihydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl)hexan-1-one] is a novel chlorinated signal molecule that induces stalk-cell differentiation during development of Dictyostelium discoideum. Here we introduce the use of the radioisotope 36Cl to label DIF-1 and other low-Mr chlorinated compounds produced during development. H.p.l.c. and t.l.c. were used to resolve the labelled compounds. We find the following. (1) At least 14 dialysable 36Cl-labelled compounds are released into the medium by cells labelled continuously through development with Na36Cl. (2) The compounds can be classified into two major groups according to their times of accumulation in development. The early group of compounds starts accumulating at the end of aggregation, co-ordinately with DIF-1; the late group is only made at the end of development, by mature fruiting bodies. There may also be an intermediate group made during culmination. (3) The early group of compounds has been identified as comprising DIF-1 and seven of its metabolites by co-chromatography with the authentic compounds. These metabolites had previously only been recognized in suspensions of living cells incubated with exogenous DIF-1. Their detection here, from cells undergoing normal development, suggests that endogenous DIF-1 is metabolized in normal development in much the same way as is DIF-1 added to cells in suspension. (4) The intermediate and late groups of compounds are not obvious DIF-1 metabolites. They may have some role unconnected with DIF signalling. (5) A group of 36Cl-labelled late compounds remain cell-associated after washing of the fruiting bodies, and these are greatly enriched in stalk, compared with spore, cells. (6) Other slime-mould species were labelled with 36Cl. All three tested, namely D. mucoroides, D. vinaceo-fuscum and P. violaceum, also produced chloro compounds. D. mucoroides produced DIF-1 by the criterion of h.p.l.c. co-elution with authentic DIF-1. A developmentally regulated metabolism of chlorinated compounds may therefore be widespread amongst slime moulds. To our knowledge, labelling with 36Cl in vivo has not been reported before and provides a powerful general method for investigating chlorinated compounds in diverse organisms.
Project description:Chlorinated compounds are important environmental pollutants whose biodegradation may be limited by inefficient dechlorinating enzymes. Dictyostelium amoebae produce a chlorinated alkyl phenone called DIF which induces stalk cell differentiation during their multicellular development. Here we describe the identification of DIF dechlorinase. DIF dechlorinase is active when expressed in bacteria, and activity is lost from Dictyostelium cells when its gene, drcA, is knocked out. It has a K(m) for DIF of 88 nM and K(cat) of 6.7 s(-1). DrcA is related to glutathione S-transferases, but with a key asparagine-to-cysteine substitution in the catalytic pocket. When this change is reversed, the enzyme reverts to a glutathione S-transferase, thus suggesting a catalytic mechanism. DrcA offers new possibilities for the rational design of bioremediation strategies.
Project description:Differentiation-inducing factor 1 (DIF-1) is a polyketide-derived morphogen which drives stalk cell formation in the developmental cycle of Dictyostelium discoideum. Previous experiments demonstrated that the biosynthetic pathway proceeds via dichlorination of the precursor molecule THPH, but the enzyme responsible for this transformation has eluded characterization. Our recent studies on prokaryotic flavin-dependent halogenases and insights from the sequenced Dd genome led us to a candidate gene for this transformation. In this work, we present in vivo and in vitro evidence that chlA from Dd encodes a flavin-dependent halogenase capable of catalyzing both chlorinations in the biosynthesis of DIF-1. The results provide in vitro characterization of a eukaryotic oxygen-dependent halogenase and demonstrate a broad reach in biology for this molecular tailoring strategy, notably its involvement in the differentiation program of a social amoeba.
Project description:Major phenotypic innovations in social amoeba evolution occurred at the transition between the Polysphondylia and group 4 Dictyostelia, which comprise the model organism Dictyostelium discoideum, such as the formation of a new structure, the basal disk. Basal disk differentiation and robust stalk formation require the morphogen DIF-1, synthesized by the polyketide synthase StlB, the des-methyl-DIF-1 methyltransferase DmtA, and the chlorinase ChlA, which are conserved throughout Dictyostelia. To understand how the basal disk and other innovations evolved in group 4, we sequenced and annotated the Polysphondylium violaceum (Pvio) genome, performed cell type-specific transcriptomics to identify cell-type marker genes, and developed transformation and gene knock-out procedures for Pvio. We used the novel methods to delete the Pvio stlB gene. The Pvio stlB- mutants formed misshapen curly sorogens with thick and irregular stalks. As fruiting body formation continued, the upper stalks became more regular, but structures contained 40% less spores. The stlB- sorogens overexpressed a stalk gene and underexpressed a (pre)spore gene. Normal fruiting body formation and sporulation were restored in Pvio stlB- by including DIF-1 in the supporting agar. These data indicate that, although conserved, stlB and its product(s) acquired both a novel role in the group 4 Dictyostelia and a role opposite to that in its sister group.