Project description:The social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum is a well-established model organism to study the interaction between bacteria and phagocytes. In contrast, research using D. discoideum as a host model for fungi is rare. We describe a comprehensive study, which uses D. discoideum as a host model system to investigate the interaction with apathogenic (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and pathogenic (Candida sp.) yeast. We show that Dictyostelium can be co-cultivated with yeasts on solid media, offering a convenient test to study the interaction between fungi and phagocytes. We demonstrate that a number of D. discoideum mutants increase (atg1-, kil1-, kil2-) or decrease (atg6-) the ability of the amoebae to predate yeast cells. On the yeast side, growth characteristics, reduced phagocytosis rate, as well as known virulence factors of C. albicans (EFG1, CPH1, HGC1, ICL1) contribute to the resistance of yeast cells against predation by the amoebae. Investigating haploid C. albicans strains, we suggest using the amoebae plate test for screening purposes after random mutagenesis. Finally, we discuss the potential of our adapted amoebae plate test to use D. discoideum for risk assessment of yeast strains.
Project description:Terpenes are structurally diverse natural products involved in many ecological interactions. The pivotal enzymes for terpene biosynthesis, terpene synthases (TPSs), had been described only in plants and fungi in the eukaryotic domain. In this report, we systematically analyzed the genome sequences of a broad range of nonplant/nonfungus eukaryotes and identified putative TPS genes in six species of amoebae, five of which are multicellular social amoebae from the order of Dictyosteliida. A phylogenetic analysis revealed that amoebal TPSs are evolutionarily more closely related to fungal TPSs than to bacterial TPSs. The social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum was selected for functional study of the identified TPSs. D. discoideum grows as a unicellular organism when food is abundant and switches from vegetative growth to multicellular development upon starvation. We found that expression of most D. discoideum TPS genes was induced during development. Upon heterologous expression, all nine TPSs from D. discoideum showed sesquiterpene synthase activities. Some also exhibited monoterpene and/or diterpene synthase activities. Direct measurement of volatile terpenes in cultures of D. discoideum revealed essentially no emission at an early stage of development. In contrast, a bouquet of terpenes, dominated by sesquiterpenes including ?-barbatene and (E,E)-?-farnesene, was detected at the middle and late stages of development, suggesting a development-specific function of volatile terpenes in D. discoideum. The patchy distribution of TPS genes in the eukaryotic domain and the evidence for TPS function in D. discoideum indicate that the TPS genes mediate lineage-specific adaptations.
Project description:Evolutionarily divergent organisms often share developmental anatomies despite vast differences between their genome sequences. The social amoebae Dictyostelium discoideum and Dictyostelium purpureum have similar developmental morphologies although their genomes are as divergent as those of man and jawed fish.Here we show that the anatomical similarities are accompanied by extensive transcriptome conservation. Using RNA sequencing we compared the abundance and developmental regulation of all the transcripts in the two species. In both species, most genes are developmentally regulated and the greatest expression changes occur during the transition from unicellularity to multicellularity. The developmental regulation of transcription is highly conserved between orthologs in the two species. In addition to timing of expression, the level of mRNA production is also conserved between orthologs and is consistent with the intuitive notion that transcript abundance correlates with the amount of protein required. Furthermore, the conservation of transcriptomes extends to cell-type specific expression.These findings suggest that developmental programs are remarkably conserved at the transcriptome level, considering the great evolutionary distance between the genomes. Moreover, this transcriptional conservation may be responsible for the similar developmental anatomies of Dictyostelium discoideum and Dictyostelium purpureum.
Project description:In many systems, including the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, development is often marked by dynamic morphological and transcriptional changes orchestrated by key transcription factors. However, efforts to examine sequential genome-wide changes of gene regulation in developmental processes have been fairly limited. Here we report the developmental regulatory dynamics of GtaC, a GATA-type zinc-finger transcription factor, through the analyses of serial ChIP- and RNA-sequencing data. GtaC is essential for developmental progression, decoding extracellular cAMP pulses during early development and may play a role in mediating cell-type differentiation at later stages. We find that GtaC exhibits temporally distinctive DNA-binding patterns concordant with each developmental stage. We identify direct GtaC targets and observe cotemporaneous GtaC-binding and developmental expression regulation. Our results suggest that GtaC regulates multiple physiological processes as Dictyostelium transitions from a group of unicellular amoebae to an integrated multicellular organism.
Project description:Both animals and amoebae use phagocytosis and DNA-based extracellular traps as anti-bacterial defense mechanisms. Whether, like animals, amoebae also use tissue-level barriers to reduce direct contact with bacteria has remained unclear. We have explored this question in the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, which forms plaques on lawns of bacteria that expand as amoebae divide and bacteria are consumed. We show that CadA, a cell adhesion protein that functions in D. discoideum development, is also a bacterial agglutinin that forms a protective interface at the plaque edge that limits exposure of vegetative amoebae to bacteria. This interface is important for amoebal survival when bacteria-to-amoebae ratios are high, optimizing amoebal feeding behavior, and protecting amoebae from oxidative stress. Lectins also control bacterial access to the gut epithelium of mammals to limit inflammatory processes; thus, this strategy of antibacterial defense is shared across a broad spectrum of eukaryotic taxa.
Project description:Recent symbioses, particularly facultative ones, are well suited for unravelling the evolutionary give and take between partners. Here we look at variation in natural isolates of the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum and their relationships with bacterial symbionts, Burkholderia hayleyella and Burkholderia agricolaris. Only about a third of field-collected amoebae carry a symbiont. We cured and cross-infected amoebae hosts with different symbiont association histories and then compared host responses to each symbiont type. Before curing, field-collected clones did not vary significantly in overall fitness, but infected hosts produced morphologically different multicellular structures. After curing and reinfecting, host fitness declined. However, natural B. hayleyella hosts suffered fewer fitness costs when reinfected with B. hayleyella, indicating that they have evolved mechanisms to tolerate their symbiont. Our work suggests that amoebae hosts have evolved mechanisms to tolerate specific acquired symbionts; exploring host-symbiont relationships that vary within species may provide further insights into disease dynamics.
Project description:Spontaneous mutations play a central role in evolution. Despite their importance, mutation rates are some of the most elusive parameters to measure in evolutionary biology. The combination of mutation accumulation (MA) experiments and whole-genome sequencing now makes it possible to estimate mutation rates by directly observing new mutations at the molecular level across the whole genome. We performed an MA experiment with the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum and sequenced the genomes of three randomly chosen lines using high-throughput sequencing to estimate the spontaneous mutation rate in this model organism. The mitochondrial mutation rate of 6.76×10(-9), with a Poisson confidence interval of 4.1×10(-9) - 9.5×10(-9), per nucleotide per generation is slightly lower than estimates for other taxa. The mutation rate estimate for the nuclear DNA of 2.9×10(-11), with a Poisson confidence interval ranging from 7.4×10(-13) to 1.6×10(-10), is the lowest reported for any eukaryote. These results are consistent with low microsatellite mutation rates previously observed in D. discoideum and low levels of genetic variation observed in wild D. discoideum populations. In addition, D. discoideum has been shown to be quite resistant to DNA damage, which suggests an efficient DNA-repair mechanism that could be an adaptation to life in soil and frequent exposure to intracellular and extracellular mutagenic compounds. The social aspect of the life cycle of D. discoideum and a large portion of the genome under relaxed selection during vegetative growth could also select for a low mutation rate. This hypothesis is supported by a significantly lower mutation rate per cell division in multicellular eukaryotes compared with unicellular eukaryotes.
Project description:In the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, thousands of cells aggregate upon starvation to form a multicellular fruiting body, and approximately 20% of them die to form a stalk that benefits the others. The aggregative nature of multicellular development makes the cells vulnerable to exploitation by cheaters, and the potential for cheating is indeed high. Cells might avoid being victimized if they can discriminate among individuals and avoid those that are genetically different. We tested how widely social amoebae cooperate by mixing isolates from different localities that cover most of their natural range. We show here that different isolates partially exclude one another during aggregation, and there is a positive relationship between the extent of this exclusion and the genetic distance between strains. Our findings demonstrate that D. discoideum cells co-aggregate more with genetically similar than dissimilar individuals, suggesting the existence of a mechanism that discerns the degree of genetic similarity between individuals in this social microorganism.
Project description:Dictyostelium discoideum amoebae feed by ingesting bacteria, then killing them in phagosomes. Ingestion and killing of different bacteria have been shown to rely on largely different molecular mechanisms. One would thus expect that D. discoideum adapts its ingestion and killing machinery when encountering different bacteria. In this study, we investigated by RNA sequencing if and how D. discoideum amoebae respond to the presence of different bacteria by modifying their gene expression patterns. Each bacterial species analyzed induced a specific modification of the transcriptome. Bacteria such as Bacillus subtilis, Klebsiella pneumoniae, or Mycobacterium marinum induced a specific and different transcriptional response, while Micrococcus luteus did not trigger a significant gene regulation. Although folate has been proposed to be one of the key molecules secreted by bacteria and recognized by hunting amoebae, it elicited a very specific and restricted transcriptional signature, distinct from that triggered by any bacteria analyzed here. Our results indicate that D. discoideum amoebae respond in a highly specific, almost non-overlapping manner to different species of bacteria. We additionally identify specific sets of genes that can be used as reporters of the response of D. discoideum to different bacteria.
Project description:We describe the rate and spectrum of spontaneous mutations for the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, a key model organism in molecular, cellular, evolutionary and developmental biology. Whole-genome sequencing of 37 mutation accumulation lines of D. discoideum after an average of 1,500 cell divisions yields a base-substitution mutation rate of 2.47 × 10-11 per site per generation, substantially lower than that of most eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms, and of the same order of magnitude as in the ciliates Paramecium tetraurelia and Tetrahymena thermophila Known for its high genomic AT content and abundance of simple sequence repeats, we observe that base-substitution mutations in D. discoideum are highly A/T biased. This bias likely contributes both to the high genomic AT content and to the formation of simple sequence repeats in the AT-rich genome of Dictyostelium discoideum In contrast to the situation in other surveyed unicellular eukaryotes, indel rates far exceed the base-substitution mutation rate in this organism with a high proportion of 3n indels, particularly in regions without simple sequence repeats. Like ciliates, D. discoideum has a large effective population size, reducing the power of random genetic drift, magnifying the effect of selection on replication fidelity, in principle allowing D. discoideum to evolve an extremely low base-substitution mutation rate.