Research ArticleCell Biology

Diverse Sensitivity Thresholds in Dynamic Signaling Responses by Social Amoebae

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Science Signaling  28 Feb 2012:
Vol. 5, Issue 213, pp. ra17
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002449

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Genetically Identical, But Not Equally Sensitive

Individual cells of the social amoeba Dictyostelium can organize to form multicellular ensembles, a process in which the chemoattractant cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate) triggers production of phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate (PIP3) to induce polarization of the chemotaxing cells. Cell population responses have generally been averaged; however, Wang et al. found that not all cells in a group of genetically identical Dictyostelium cells produced PIP3 in response to cAMP and that more cells produced PIP3 as the cAMP concentration increased. Furthermore, modeling and experiments suggested that an amplification step occurred downstream of an adaptive signaling network and that different cells had different amplification thresholds. Different sensitivities and thresholds for signal amplification may enable highly responsive individual cells to promote chemotaxis of an entire population of Dictyostelium cells and, thus, mediate collective behavior.

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