Signal transduction during cannibalistic sexual phagocytosis: Calcium is not the trigger but GTP-binding protein function is essential

Keith E. Lewis, Darren D. Browning, Danton H. O'Day

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


After fertilization, the zygote giant cell of Dictyostelium discoideum chemoattracts and subsequently engulfs hundreds of amoebae of the same species and strains from which it was derived. A pharmacological approach indicates that, while it may have some role, calcium is not the trigger for this cannibalistic phagocytic process. Of several agents that perturb intracellular calcium levels [A23187, LaCl, 8-diethylamino-octyl-3,4,5-trimethoxylbenzoate (TMB-8) and chlorotetracyline], only A23187 had an effect in reducing amoebal ingestion. In keeping with this, agents which interfered with downstream effectors of calcium function did not alter sexual phagocytosis. Calmidazoulium and trifluoperazine, which inhibit calmodulin function, were ineffective, as were a protein kinase C inhibitor (staurosporine) and activator (phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate). On the other hand, the nucleotide analogues GTPγS and GDPβS both inhibited sexual phagocytosis indicating a role for GTP-binding protein activity at some stage in the process. Sub-fractionation of cells from non-phagocytic and phagocytic stage cell cultures followed by immunolocalization after SDS-PAGE and western blotting revealed a number of GTP-binding proteins in both the cell membrane and intracellular membrane fractions that might function during the events of sexual phagocytosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-215
Number of pages7
JournalCellular Signalling
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1994
Externally publishedYes



  • GTP-binding proteins
  • Phagocytosis
  • calcium signalling
  • cannibalism
  • signal transduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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