In Dictyostelium discoideum, cytological and physiological studies on macrocyst formation revealed that this process consists of at least two steps: the production of giant cells, which are believed to be formed from the fusion of cells of two opposite mating types, and the subsequent induction of macrocyst development by the giant cells. The conditions that had been considered formerly to be required for macrocyst formation, such as darkness at the presence of two cells of complementary mating types in heterothallic strains, were actually required only for the production of the giant cells. Once giant cells are produced, the surrounding cells can aggregate and form macrocysts even in the light. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that giant cells can switch the developmental mode of the surrounding cells to macrocyst formation. That is, if a critical number of the isolated giant cells are introduced into a cell population of a single strain of NC4, which normally would produce only fruiting-bodies, macrocysts are formed instead. When in the presence of giant cells, the development of macrocysts may be initiated by starvation. Therefore, if all cells are made to starve simultaneously development begins and proceeds synchronously. Using this technique of synchronous development, the developmental kinetics of enzyme activities were assayed during macrocyst and fruiting-body formation. Considerable differences in the patterns of those enzyme activities were demonstrated between the two developmental modes of D. discoideum.
- © 1982 by Company of Biologists