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Investigating the Function of Coronin A in the Early Starvation Response of Dictyostelium discoideum by Aggregation Assays

Published: June 18th, 2016



1Biozentrum, University of Basel

The social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum undergoes a developmental transition into a multicellular organism when starved. The evolutionary conserved protein coronin A plays a crucial role in the initiation of development. Using aggregation assays as our main method, we aim to elucidate the role of coronin A in early development.

Dictyostelium discoideum amoeba are found in soil, feeding on bacteria. When food sources become scarce, they secrete factors to initiate a multicellular development program, during which single cells chemotax towards aggregation centers1-4. This process is dependent on the release of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)5. cAMP is produced in waves through the concerted action of adenylate cyclase and phosphodiesterases, and binds to G protein-coupled cAMP receptors6,7. A widely used assay to analyze the mechanisms involved in the developmental cycle of the lower eukaryote Dictyostelium discoideum is based on the observation of cell aggregation in submerged conditions8,9. This protocol describes the analysis of the role of coronin A in the developmental cycle by starvation in tissue-culture plates submerged in balanced salt solution (BSS)10. Coronin A is a member of the widely conserved protein family of coronins that have been implicated in a wide variety of activities11,12. Dictyostelium cells lacking coronin A are unable to form multicellular aggregates, and this defect can be rescued by supplying pulses of cAMP, suggesting that coronin A acts upstream of the cAMP cascade10. The techniques described in these studies provide robust tools to investigate functions of proteins during the initial stages of the developmental cycle of Dictyostelium discoideum upstream of the cAMP cascade. Therefore, utilizing this aggregation assay may allow the further study of coronin A function and advance our understanding of coronin biology.

The coronin family of proteins is highly conserved throughout eukaryotes. These proteins are characterized by the presence of an amino-terminal tryptophan-aspartate (WD) repeat-containing region followed by a unique region connected to a carboxy-terminal coiled-coil domain13,14 (Figure 1). Coronins have been implicated in a variety of cellular functions, including cytoskeletal regulation and signal transduction12. In mammals, up to six short coronin molecules (coronin 1-6) as well as a 'tandem' coronin 7, can be co-expressed12,15. Coronin 1 is the most extensively studied family member, and was shown to be invo....

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  1. Observe the early starvation response of Dictyostelium discoideum by time-lapse microscopy.
    1. Grow DH1.10 cells or corA-deficient cells in an Erlenmayer flask containing HL-5 medium (for 1 L: 5 g proteose peptone, 5 g thiotone E peptone, 10 g glucose, 5 g yeast extract, 0.35 g Na2HPO4*7H2O, 0.35 g KH2PO4, 0.05 g dihydrostreptomycin-sulfate, pH 6.6) at 22 °C in a shaking incubator with a rotation of 160 rpm. Keep cells at a density between 0.01 x 10.......

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Cells deficient in coronin A show a defect in early development (Figure 2). In the absence of coronin A cells are unable to form multicellular aggregates, which is the initial step during the developmental cycle of Dictyostelium discoideum. Therefore, coronin A appears to play a role during the early starvation response and/or cAMP signaling. Indeed, the lack of multicellular aggregate formation in the absence of coronin A is accompanied by reduced cAMP signaling.......

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The coronin proteins are found in most taxa of the eukaryotic clade. Dictyostelium discoideum coronin A, the homologue of mammalian coronin 1, is involved in the early starvation response, since coronin A-deficient cells are not able to form aggregation centers during the early developmental cycle10. To be able to quantitatively and accurately assess the delay in development between the strains, a microscope live cell imaging set-up with the automated stage controller is an essential tool.

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We thank the Dictyostelium Stock Center for strains and reagents. This study was financed by grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Canton of Basel.


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
HL-5 media (for 1L: 5 g proteose peptone, 5 g thiotone E peptone, 10 g glucose, 5 g yeast extract, 0.35 g Na2HPO4∗2H2O, 0.35 g KH2PO4, 0.05 g dihydrostreptomycin-sulfate, pH 6.6)
Proteose peptone BD Bioscience 211693
Thiotone E peptone BD Bioscience 211684
Yeast extract BD Bioscience 212750
Glucose AppliChem A3666
Na2HPO4∗2H2O Fluka 71643
KH2PO4 AppliChem A1043
dihydrostreptomycin-sulfate Sigma-Aldrich D1954000
PBM (0.02 M potassium phosphate, 10 μM CaCl2, and l mM MgCl2, pH 6.1) self made
BSS (10 mM NaCl, 10 mM KCl, 2.5 mM CaCl2, pH 6.5) self made
0.45-μm Filtropure S filter Sarstedt 83.1826
Falcon 24-well Tissue culture plate Fisher Scientific 08-772-1H
Cellobserver microscope Zeiss custom built
AxioVision software Zeiss
IPC Microprocessor–controlled dispensing pump ISMATEC ISM 931
Axiovert 135M microscope Zeiss 491237-0001-000
Incubation Shaker Inforst HT Minitron

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