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Open Access Research article

Phospholipase Cδ regulates germination of Dictyostelium spores

Peter Van Dijken and Peter JM Van Haastert*

Author Affiliations

Department of Biochemistry, University of Groningen, Nijenborgh 4, 9747 AG Groningen, The Netherlands

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BMC Cell Biology 2001, 2:25  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-2-25

Published: 5 December 2001



Many eukaryotes, including plants and fungi make spores that resist severe environmental stress. The micro-organism Dictyostelium contains a single phospholipase C gene (PLC); deletion of the gene has no effect on growth, cell movement and differentiation. In this report we show that PLC is essential to sense the environment of food-activated spores.


Plc-null spores germinate at alkaline pH, reduced temperature or increased osmolarity, conditions at which the emerging amoebae can not grow. In contrast, food-activated wild-type spores return to dormancy till conditions in the environment allow growth. The analysis of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) levels and the effect of added IP3 uncover an unexpected mechanism how PLC regulates spore germination: i) deletion of PLC induces the enhanced activity of an IP5 phosphatase leading to high IP3 levels in plc-null cells; ii) in wild-type spores unfavourable conditions inhibit PLC leading to a reduction of IP3 levels; addition of exogenous IP3 to wild-type spores induces germination at unfavourable conditions; iii) in plc-null spores IP3 levels remain high, also at unfavourable environmental conditions.


The results imply that environmental conditions regulate PLC activity and that IP3 induces spore germination; the uncontrolled germination of plc-null spores is not due to a lack of PLC activity but to the constitutive activation of an alternative IP3-forming pathway.