The Dd PK2 gene codes for a putative protein of 648 amino acids with a C-terminal half sharing high homology with protein kinase A catalytic subunits from other organisms. In order to find out more about the physiological role of the Dd PK2 kinase, its gene, and a version having a frame shift mutation in the middle of the catalytic region, were overexpressed in developing Dictyostelium cells. Both the intact gene (K-) and the frame shift mutant (Kdel-) caused rapid development with spores formed in 16–18 hours compared to the 24 hours required by their parent. This result was confirmed by the pattern of expression of some developmentally regulated genes. Other rapid developing strains (rde) are activated in the cAMP second messenger system. Both K- and Kdel-containing strains have lower cAMP levels than the parental strain during late development, thus resembling rdeC mutants. K-cells (but not Kdel-cells) produced bizarre fruiting bodies with many prostrate forms. The parallel with rde mutants was confirmed by demonstrating that K-cells are able to form spores in submerged monolayer culture. Furthermore, K-cells have about four times more protein kinase A (cAPK) activity than wild-type cells. These results indicate that the N-terminal domain of Dd PK2 is sufficient to influence cAMP levels and to provoke rapid development, whereas kinase activity seems to be required for the sporogenous phenotype. The association between elevated cAPK and Dd PK2 overexpression phenotype further indicates a role for cAPK in the formation of spores.

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