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Science 333 (6041): 467-470

Copyright © 2011 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Self-Recognition in Social Amoebae Is Mediated by Allelic Pairs of Tiger Genes

Shigenori Hirose,1,* Rocio Benabentos,2,3,* Hsing-I Ho,3 Adam Kuspa,1,2,3,{dagger} Gad Shaulsky2,3,{dagger}

Abstract: Free-living cells of the social amoebae Dictyostelium discoideum can aggregate and develop into multicellular fruiting bodies in which many die altruistically as they become stalk cells that support the surviving spores. Dictyostelium cells exhibit kin discrimination—a potential defense against cheaters, which sporulate without contributing to the stalk. Kin discrimination depends on strain relatedness, and the polymorphic genes tgrB1 and tgrC1 are potential components of that mechanism. Here, we demonstrate a direct role for these genes in kin discrimination. We show that a matching pair of tgrB1 and tgrC1 alleles is necessary and sufficient for attractive self-recognition, which is mediated by differential cell-cell adhesion. We propose that TgrB1 and TgrC1 proteins mediate this adhesion through direct binding. This system is a genetically tractable ancient model of eukaryotic self-recognition.

1 Verna and Marrs McLean Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
2 Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
3 Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

* These authors contributed equally to this work.

{dagger} To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: gadi{at}bcm.edu (G.S.), akuspa{at}bcm.edu (A.K.)


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