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Using a newly developed microfluidic chamber, we have demonstrated in vitro that Ca2+ functions as a chemoattractant of aggregation-competent Dictyostelium discoideum amoebae, that parallel spatial gradients of cAMP and Ca2+ are more effective than either alone, and that cAMP functions as a stronger chemoattractant than Ca2+. Effective Ca2+ gradients are extremely steep compared with effective cAMP gradients. This presents a paradox because there is no indication to date that steep Ca2+ gradients are generated in aggregation territories. However, given that Ca2+ chemotaxis is co-acquired with cAMP chemotaxis during development, we speculate on the role that Ca2+ chemotaxis might have and the possibility that steep, transient Ca2+ gradients are generated during natural aggregation in the interstitial regions between cells.

  • Accepted July 14, 2010.
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