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Open Access Research article

STATc is a key regulator of the transcriptional response to hyperosmotic shock

Jianbo Na, Budi Tunggal and Ludwig Eichinger*

Author Affiliations

Institute for Biochemistry I, Medical Faculty, University of Cologne, Joseph-Stelzmann-Strasse 52, 50931 Cologne, Germany

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BMC Genomics 2007, 8:123  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-123

Published: 21 May 2007

Abstract

Background

Dictyostelium discoideum is frequently subjected to environmental changes in its natural habitat, the forest soil. In order to survive, the organism had to develop effective mechanisms to sense and respond to such changes. When cells are faced with a hypertonic environment a complex response is triggered. It starts with signal sensing and transduction and leads to changes in cell shape, the cytoskeleton, transport processes, metabolism and gene expression. Certain aspects of the Dictyostelium osmotic stress response have been elucidated, however, no comprehensive picture was available up to now.

Results

To better understand the D. discoideum response to hyperosmotic conditions, we performed gene expression profiling using DNA microarrays. The transcriptional profile of cells treated with 200 mM sorbitol during a 2-hour time course revealed a time-dependent induction or repression of 809 genes, more than 15% of the genes on the array, which peaked 45 to 60 minutes after the hyperosmotic shock. The differentially regulated genes were applied to cluster analysis and functional annotation using gene GO terms. Two main responses appear to be the down-regulation of the metabolic machinery and the up-regulation of the stress response system, including STATc. Further analysis of STATc revealed that it is a key regulator of the transcriptional response to hyperosmotic shock. Approximately 20% of the differentially regulated genes were dependent on the presence of STATc.

Conclusion

At least two signalling pathways are activated in Dictyostelium cells subjected to hypertonicity. STATc is responsible for the transcriptional changes of one of them.