Direct mechanical force measurements during the migration of Dictyostelium slugs using flexible substrata.
ABSTRACT: We use the flexible substrate method to study how and where mechanical forces are exerted during the migration of Dictyostelium slugs. This old and contentious issue has been left poorly understood so far. We are able to identify clearly separate friction forces in the tip and in the tail of the slug, traction forces mostly localized in the inner slug/surface contact area in the prespore region and large perpendicular forces directed in the outward direction at the outline of contact area. Surprisingly, the magnitude of friction and traction forces is decreasing with slug velocity indicating that these quantities are probably related to the dynamics of cell/substrate adhesion complexes. Contrary to what is always assumed in models and simulations, friction is not of fluid type (viscous drag) but rather close to solid friction. We suggest that the slime sheath confining laterally the cell mass of the slug experiences a tension that in turn is pulling out the elastic substrate in the direction tangential to the slug profile where sheath is anchored. In addition, we show in the appendix that the iterative method we developed is well adapted to study forces over large and continuous fields when the experimental error is sufficiently low and when the plane of recorded bead deformations is close enough to the elastomer surface, requirements fulfilled in this experimental study of Dictyostelium slugs.
Project description:The traction forces exerted by an adherent cell on a substrate have been studied only in the two-dimensions (2D) tangential to substrate surface (Txy). We developed a novel technique to measure the three-dimensional (3D) traction forces exerted by live bovine aortic endothelial cells (BAECs) on polyacrylamide deformable substrate. On 3D images acquired by confocal microscopy, displacements were determined with image-processing programs, and traction forces in tangential (XY) and normal (Z) directions were computed by finite element method (FEM). BAECs generated traction force in normal direction (Tz) with an order of magnitude comparable to Txy. Tz is upward at the cell edge and downward under the nucleus, changing continuously with a sign reversal between cell edge and nucleus edge. The method was evaluated regarding accuracy and precision of displacement measurements, effects of FE mesh size, displacement noises, and simple bootstrapping. These results provide new insights into cell-matrix interactions in terms of spatial and temporal variations in traction forces in 3D. This technique can be applied to study live cells to assess their biomechanical dynamics in conjunction with biochemical and functional activities, for investigating cellular functions in health and disease. ELECTRONIC SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL: The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12195-009-0082-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Project description:Using liquid slugs as microreactors and microvessels enable precise control over the conditions of their contents on short-time scales for a wide variety of applications. Particularly for screening applications, there is a need for control of slug parameters such as size and composition. We describe a new microfluidic approach for creating slugs in air, each comprising a size and composition that can be selected individually for each slug. Two-component slugs are formed by first metering the desired volume of each reagent, merging the two volumes into an end-to-end slug, and propelling the slug to induce mixing. Volume control is achieved by a novel mechanism: two closed chambers on the chip are initially filled with air, and a valve in each is briefly opened to admit one of the reagents. The pressure of each reagent can be individually selected and determines the amount of air compression, and thus the amount of liquid that is admitted into each chamber. We describe the theory of operation, characterize the slug generation chip, and demonstrate the creation of slugs of different compositions. The use of microvalves in this approach enables robust operation with different liquids, and also enables one to work with extremely small samples, even down to a few slug volumes. The latter is important for applications involving precious reagents such as optimizing the reaction conditions for radiolabeling biological molecules as tracers for positron emission tomography. ELECTRONIC SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL: The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10404-010-0617-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Project description:The dynamics of predation on parasites within prey has received relatively little attention despite the profound effects this is likely to have on both prey and parasite numbers and hence on biological control programmes where parasites are employed. The nematode Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita is a commercially available biological agent against slugs. Predation on these slugs may, at the same time, result in intraguild predation on slug-parasitic nematodes. This study describes, for the first time, predation by carabid beetles on slugs and their nematode parasites on both spatial and temporal scales, using PCR-based methods. The highest nematode infection levels were found in the slugs Deroceras reticulatum and Arion silvaticus. Numbers of infected slugs decreased over time and no infected slugs were found four months after nematode application. The density of the most abundant slug, the invasive Arion vulgaris, was positively related to the activity-density of the carabid beetle, Carabus nemoralis. Predation on slugs was density and size related, with highest predation levels also on A. vulgaris. Predation on A. vulgaris decreased significantly in summer when these slugs were larger than one gram. Predation by C. nemoralis on slugs was opportunistic, without any preferences for specific species. Intraguild predation on the nematodes was low, suggesting that carabid beetles such as C. nemoralis probably do not have a significant impact on the success of biological control using P. hermaphrodita.
Project description:Microscopic droplets or slugs of mixed reagents provide a convenient platform for performing large numbers of isolated biochemical or chemical reactions for many screening and optimization applications. Myriad microfluidic approaches have emerged for creating droplets or slugs with controllable size and composition, generally using an immiscible carrier fluid to assist with the formation or merging processes. We report a novel device for generation of liquid slugs in air when the use of a carrier liquid is not compatible with the application. The slug generator contains two adjacent chambers, each of which has a volume that can be digitally adjusted by closing selected microvalves. Reagents are filled into the two chambers, merged together into a contiguous liquid slug, ejected at the desired time from the device using gas pressure, and mixed by flowing in a downstream channel. Programmable size and composition of slugs is achieved by dynamically adjusting the volume of each chamber prior to filling. Slug formation in this fashion is independent of fluid properties and can easily be scaled to mix larger numbers of reagents. This device has already been used to screen monomer ratios in supramolecular nanoparticle assembly and radiolabeling conditions of engineered antibodies, and here we provide a detailed description of the underlying device.
Project description:Plastids sequestered by sacoglossan sea slugs have long been a puzzle. Some sacoglossans feed on siphonaceous algae and can retain the plastids in the cytosol of their digestive gland cells. There, the stolen plastids (kleptoplasts) can remain photosynthetically active in some cases for months. Kleptoplast longevity itself challenges current paradigms concerning photosystem turnover, because kleptoplast photosystems remain active in the absence of nuclear algal genes. In higher plants, nuclear genes are essential for plastid maintenance, in particular, for the constant repair of the D1 protein of photosystem II. Lateral gene transfer was long suspected to underpin slug kleptoplast longevity, but recent transcriptomic and genomic analyses show that no algal nuclear genes are expressed from the slug nucleus. Kleptoplast genomes themselves, however, appear expressed in the sequestered state. Here we present sequence data for the chloroplast genome of Acetabularia acetabulum, the food source of the sacoglossan Elysia timida, which can maintain Acetabularia kleptoplasts in an active state for months. The data reveal what might be the key to sacoglossan kleptoplast longevity: plastids that remain photosynthetically active within slugs for periods of months share the property of encoding ftsH, a D1 quality control protease that is essential for photosystem II repair. In land plants, ftsH is always nuclear encoded, it was transferred to the nucleus from the plastid genome when Charophyta and Embryophyta split. A replenishable supply of ftsH could, in principle, rescue kleptoplasts from D1 photodamage, thereby influencing plastid longevity in sacoglossan slugs.
Project description:Interaction conditions can change the balance of cooperation and conflict in multicellular groups. After aggregating together, cells of the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum may migrate as a group (known as a slug) to a new location. We consider this migration stage as an arena for social competition and conflict because the cells in the slug may not be from a genetically homogeneous population. In this study, we examined the interplay of two seemingly diametric actions, the solitary action of kin recognition and the collective action of slug migration in D. discoideum, to more fully understand the effects of social competition on fitness over the entire lifecycle. We compare slugs composed of either genetically homogenous or heterogeneous cells that have migrated or remained stationary in the social stage of the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. After migration of chimeric slugs, we found that facultative cheating is reduced, where facultative cheating is defined as greater contribution to spore relative to stalk than found for that clone in the clonal state. In addition our results support previous findings that competitive interactions in chimeras diminish slug migration distance. Furthermore, fruiting bodies have shorter stalks after migration, even accounting for cell numbers at that time. Taken together, these results show that migration can alleviate the conflict of interests in heterogeneous slugs. It aligns their interest in finding a more advantageous place for dispersal, where shorter stalks suffice, which leads to a decrease in cheating behavior.
Project description:The mechanisms by which cytoskeletal flows and cell-substrate interactions interact to generate cell motion are explored using a simplified model of the cytoskeleton as a viscous gel containing active stresses. This model yields explicit general results relating cell speed and traction forces to the distributions of active stress and cell-substrate friction. It is found that 1) the cell velocity is given by a function that quantifies the asymmetry of the active-stress distribution, 2) gradients in cell-substrate friction can induce motion even when the active stresses are symmetrically distributed, 3) the traction-force dipole is enhanced by protrusive stresses near the cell edges or contractile stresses near the center of the cell, and 4) the cell velocity depends biphasically on the cell-substrate adhesion strength if active stress is enhanced by adhesion. Specific experimental tests of the calculated dependences are proposed.
Project description:Copines are calcium-dependent phospholipid-binding proteins found in diverse eukaryotic organisms. We are studying the function of copines in Dictyostelium discoideum, a single-celled amoeba that undergoes cell differentiation and morphogenesis to form multicellular fruiting bodies when placed in starvation conditions. Previously, we showed that Dictyostelium cells lacking the copine A (cpnA) gene are not able to complete the developmental cycle, arresting at the slug stage. The aim of this study is to further characterize the developmental defect of the cpnA- cells.Time-lapse imaging revealed that cpnA- cells exhibited delayed aggregation and made large mounds that formed one large slug as compared to the smaller slugs of the wild-type cells. While the prespore cell patterning appeared to be normal within the cpnA- slugs, the prestalk cell patterning was different from wild-type. When cpnA- cells were mixed with a small percentage of wild-type cells, chimeric fruiting bodies with short stalks formed. When a small percentage of cpnA- cells was mixed with wild-type cells, the cpnA- cells labeled with GFP were found located throughout the chimeric slug and in both the stalk and sporehead of the fruiting bodies. However, there appeared to be a small bias towards cpnA- cells becoming spore cells. When cpnA- cells were developed in buffer containing EGTA, they were also able to differentiate into either stalk or spore cells to form fruiting bodies with short stalks.Our results indicate that CpnA is involved in the regulation of aggregation, slug size, and culmination during Dictyostelium development. More specifically, CpnA appears to be involved in the function and differentiation of prestalk cells and plays a role in a calcium-regulated signaling pathway critical to triggering the initiation of culmination.
Project description:Sacoglossan sea slugs are the only metazoans known to perform functional kleptoplasty, the sequestration and retention of functional chloroplasts within their digestive gland cells. Remarkably, a few species with this ability can survive starvation periods of 3-12 months likely due to their stolen chloroplasts. There are no reports of kleptoplast transfer from mother slug to either eggs or juveniles, demonstrating that each animal must independently acquire its kleptoplasts and develop the ability to maintain them within its digestive gland. We present here an investigation into the development of functional kleptoplasty in a long-term kleptoplast retaining species, Elysia timida. Laboratory-reared juvenile slugs of different post-metamorphic ages were placed in starvation and compared to 5 known short-term retaining slug species and 5 non-retaining slug species. The subsequent results indicate that functional kleptoplasty is not performed by E. timida until after 15 days post-metamorphosis and that by 25 days, these animals outlive many of the short-term retention species. Digestive activity was also monitored using lysosomal abundance as an indicator, revealing different patterns in starving juveniles versus adults. Starved juveniles were reintroduced to food to determine any differences in digestive activity when starvation ends, resulting in an increase in the number of kleptoplasts, but no overall change in lysosomal activity. By revealing some of the changes that occur during early development in these animals, which begin as non-kleptoplast-retaining and grow into long-term retaining slugs, this investigation provides a basis for future inquiries into the origin and development of this remarkable ability.
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.