Open Access Research article

Ca2+ regulation in the absence of the iplA gene product in Dictyostelium discoideum

Ralph H Schaloske1, Daniel F Lusche2, Karen Bezares-Roder2, Kathrin Happle2, Dieter Malchow2 and Christina Schlatterer2*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California at San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0601, USA

2 Faculty for Biology, University of Konstanz, 78457 Konstanz, Germany

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Citation and License

BMC Cell Biology 2005, 6:13  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-6-13

Published: 11 March 2005



Stimulation of Dictyostelium discoideum with cAMP evokes an elevation of the cytosolic free Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i). The [Ca2+]i-change is composed of liberation of stored Ca2+ and extracellular Ca2+-entry. The significance of the [Ca2+]i-transient for chemotaxis is under debate. Abolition of chemotactic orientation and migration by Ca2+-buffers in the cytosol indicates that a [Ca2+]i-increase is required for chemotaxis. Yet, the iplA- mutant disrupted in a gene bearing similarity to IP3-receptors of higher eukaryotes aggregates despite the absence of a cAMP-induced [Ca2+]i-transient which favours the view that [Ca2+]i-changes are insignificant for chemotaxis.


We investigated Ca2+-fluxes and the effect of their disturbance on chemotaxis and development of iplA- cells. Differentiation was altered as compared to wild type amoebae and sensitive towards manipulation of the level of stored Ca2+. Chemotaxis was impaired when [Ca2+]i-transients were suppressed by the presence of a Ca2+-chelator in the cytosol of the cells. Analysis of ion fluxes revealed that capacitative Ca2+-entry was fully operative in the mutant. In suspensions of intact and permeabilized cells cAMP elicited extracellular Ca2+-influx and liberation of stored Ca2+, respectively, yet to a lesser extent than in wild type. In suspensions of partially purified storage vesicles ATP-induced Ca2+-uptake and Ca2+-release activated by fatty acids or Ca2+-ATPase inhibitors were similar to wild type. Mn2+-quenching of fura2 fluorescence allows to study Ca2+-influx indirectly and revealed that the responsiveness of mutant cells was shifted to higher concentrations: roughly 100 times more Mn2+ was necessary to observe agonist-induced Mn2+-influx. cAMP evoked a [Ca2+]i-elevation when stores were strongly loaded with Ca2+, again with a similar shift in sensitivity in the mutant. In addition, basal [Ca2+]i was significantly lower in iplA- than in wild type amoebae.


These results support the view that [Ca2+]i-transients are essential for chemotaxis and differentiation. Moreover, capacitative and agonist-activated ion fluxes are regulated by separate pathways that are mediated either by two types of channels in the plasma membrane or by distinct mechanisms coupling Ca2+-release from stores to Ca2+-entry in Dictyostelium. The iplA- strain retains the capacitative Ca2+-entry pathway and an impaired agonist-activated pathway that operates with reduced efficiency or at higher ionic pressure.