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Jason Rall

Advisor: Dale Hereld, MD Ph.D.

Accepted post-doctoral position at UTHSC after receiving PhD
Now employed as a Biomedical Scientist at Eagle Medical Services, San Antonio, TX

The unicellular amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum embarks on a developmental program upon starvation. During development, extracellular oscillatory cAMP signaling orchestrates the chemotaxis-mediated aggregation of ~105 amoebae and is required for optimal induction of so-called pulse-induced genes. This requirement for pulsatile cAMP reflects adaptation of the cAMP-receptor-mediated pathways that regulate these genes. Through examination of a collection of pulse-induced genes, we defined two distinct gene classes based on their induction kinetics and the impact of mutations that impair PKA signaling. The first class (represented by D2 and prtA) is highly dependent on PKA signaling, whereas the second class (represented by carA, gpaB, and acaA) is not. Analysis of expression kinetics revealed that these classes are sequentially expressed with the PKA-independent genes peaking in expression before the PKA-dependent class. Experiments with cycloheximide, an inhibitor of translation, demonstrated that the pulse induction of both classes depends on new protein synthesis early in development. carA and gpaB also exhibit pulse-independent, starvation-induced expression which, unlike their pulse induction, was found to be insensitive to cycloheximide added at the outset of starvation. This result indicates that the mechanism of starvation induction pre-exists in growing cells and is distinct from the pulse induction mechanism for these genes. In order to identify cis-acting elements that are critical for induction of carA, we constructed a GFP reporter controlled by a 914-base-pair portion of its promoter and verified that its expression was PKA-independent, pulse-inducible, and developmentally regulated like the endogenous carA gene. By a combination of truncation, internal deletion, and site-directed mutation, we defined several distinct functional elements within the carA promoter, including a 39-bp region required for pulse induction between base pairs -321 and 282 (relative to the transcription start site), a 131-bp region proximal to the start site that is sufficient for starvation induction, and two separate enhancer domains. Identification of factors that interact with these promoter elements and genetic approaches exploiting the GFP reporter described here should help complete our understanding of the mechanisms regulating these genes, including adaptation mechanisms that likely also govern chemotaxis of Dictyostelium and mammalian cells

Search pubmed for papers by J. Rall and D. Hereld

Research Info

Identification and characterization of distinct classes of cAMP-pulse-induced genes in Dictyostelium discoideum development