Dd-TRAP1 is a Dictyostelium homologue of tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated protein 1 (TRAP-1). Dd-TRAP1 is located in the cortex of cells growing at a low density, but was found to be translocated to mitochondria with the help of a novel prestarvation factor that was accumulated in growth medium along with increased cell densities. The knockdown mutant of Dd-TRAP1 (TRAP1-RNAi cells) exhibited a significant defect in prestarvation response. Although TRAP1-RNAi cells showed normal expressions of classical prestarvation genes [dscA (discoidin I) and car1 (carA; cAMP receptor)], the expression of differentiation-associated genes (dia1 and dia3) induced by the prestarvation response were markedly repressed. By contrast, transformants overexpressing Dd-TRAP1 showed an early prestarvation response and also increased expression of dia1 and dia3 in a cell-density-dependent manner. Importantly, introduction of Dd-TRAP1 antibody into D. discoideum Ax-2 cells by electroporation inhibited the translocation of Dd-TRAP1 from the cortex to mitochondria and greatly inhibited the initiation of differentiation. Taken together, these results indicate that Dd-TRAP1 is translocated to mitochondria by sensing the cell density in growth medium and enhances the early developmental program through a novel prestarvation response.

Introduction

Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor-associated protein 1 (TRAP-1) was initially identified using the yeast two-hybrid system as a novel protein that binds to the intracellular domain of the type 1 receptor for TNF (TNFR-1IC) (Song et al., 1995). The retinoblastoma protein (Rb) and tumor suppressors EXT1 and EXT2 have also been reported as its binding partners (Chen et al., 1996; Simmons et al., 1999). Additionally, Coller et al. have suggested that TRAP-1 is part of a pathway leading to MYC-mediated apoptosis (Coller et al., 2000). In summary, it appears that TRAP-1 plays roles in cell cycle progression, cellular differentiation and apoptosis, but its precise function remains to be elucidated. Although the TRAP-1 protein shows significant homology to the 90 kDa molecular chaperone Hsp90 and is predominantly located in mitochondria in several cell lines (as expected since it contains a mitochondrial localization sequence at its N-terminus), specific extramitochondrial localizations of TRAP1 have also been observed (Cechetto and Gupta, 2000). All partners identified as interacting with TRAP-1 are in fact extramitochondrial proteins, suggesting possible functions outside as well as inside mitochondria. We previously reported that the Dictyostelium homologue (Dd-TRAP1) of TRAP-1 predominantly localizes to the cell cortex together with F-actin during growth, and that it translocates to mitochondria early in differentiation (Morita et al., 2002).

Dictyostelium discoideum has a well-defined life cycle that provides a good system for elucidating the mechanisms governing the transition from growth to differentiation. Vegetative Dictyostelium discoideum cells grow and proliferate as long as external nutrients are available. Upon deprivation of nutrients, however, starving cells progress through the cell cycle to a particular point (putative shift point; PS-point) in the mid-late G2 phase of cell cycle and enter the differentiation phase from this point (Maeda et al., 1989). Along with the initiation of the developmental program, cells acquire aggregation competence and EDTA-resistant cohesiveness to form aggregates by chemotaxis to cAMP (Gerisch, 1961; Bonner et al., 1969). Thus growth and differentiation are temporally separated from each other and easily controlled by nutritional conditions. Using this advantage we have identified several genes that are specifically expressed in response to the initial differentiation from the PS-point (reviewed by Maeda et al., 2002). By contrast, a part of the differentiation program has been shown to begin before starvation (prestarvation response, PSR); premature expression of early developmental genes [prestarvation genes; for example, dscA (discoidin I) and car1 (carA; cAMP receptor)] is induced as the density of growing cells increases (Clarke et al., 1987; Rathi and Clarke, 1992). Vegetatively growing cells sense their own cell density by secreting factors (prestarvation factors) that induce the expression of the prestarvation genes when they accumulate above a threshold level, and thus allow the relatively sharp onset of development. Although two kinds of prestarvation factors (PSF and PSF′, renamed PSF-1 and PSF-2, respectively) have been reported (Clarke et al., 1987; Maeda and Iijima, 1992), a detailed signal transduction pathway of PSR remains to be determined.

As presented here, Dd-TRAP1 translocates from the cell cortex to mitochondria as the density of growing cells increases, and allows the prompt transition of cells from growth to differentiation through a novel prestarvation factor (PSF-3) in growth medium. From the analyses of conditional knockdown or overexpressing mutants of Dd-TRAP1, it is evident that Dd-TRAP1 is coupled to a novel PSR, including induction of differentiation associate-1 (dia1) and dia3 expression but not discoidin I and car1 expression as the density of growing cells increases.

Materials and Methods

Cells and culture

Vegetative cells of Dictyostelium discoideum Ax-2 (clone MS) were grown axenically in growth (PS)-medium, as previously described (Morita et al., 2002). Transformed cells overexpressing Dd-TRAP1 were grown axenically by shake culture in PS-medium containing 50 μg/ml of G418. To allow cells to differentiate, growth-phase cells at different cell densities were harvested, washed twice in BSS (10 mM NaCl, 10 mM KCl, 2.3 mM CaCl2) (Bonner, 1947) as starvation medium, and plated either in a 24-well titer plate at a density of 5×105 cells/cm2 or on 1.5% non-nutrient agar at a density of 2.5×105 cells/cm2, followed by incubation at 22°C. Conditioned growth medium (CGM) was prepared as follows: Ax-2 cells were grown in PS-medium up to a high cell density (>8×106 cells/ml), and the supernatant of culture were withdrawn by centrifugation as CGM.

Isolation of Dd-TRAP1-overexpressing cells

pDNeo2 (Witke et al., 1987) was used as the original vector for the preparation of Dd-TRAP1-overexpressing transformants. This vector was digested by BamHI and PstI, and then ligated overnight with the dd-trap1 gene that had been prepared by digesting a cDNA clone SLB414 (a kind gift from the Dictyostelium cDNA project in Japan) with BamHI and PsII, to obtain pDNeo2-Dd-TRAP1. The pDNeo2-Dd-TRAP1 vector was introduced into Ax-2 (clone MS) cells by electroporation as described previously (Howard et al., 1988). Transformed cells were selected in PS-medium containing 10 μg/ml of G418. After 1 week of the selection, the transformants were cloned and cultured in PS-medium containing 50 μg/ml of G418.

Isolation of conditional knockdown mutants of Dd-TRAP1 by RNA interference

Fragments of the dd-trap1 gene for RNAi were obtained by PCR with primers containing appropriate restriction sites on their ends (trap1737, 5′-cccaagcttggatccgaattcgtcaacggcgttat-3′; trap-539f, 5′-aaactgcagttgaggatgcatcaattcca-3′; trap-981f, 5′-aaactgcagattcccaatcgctttgaatg-3′). The first PCR product (amplified with trap1737 and trap-539f) was ligated tail to tail with the second PCR product (amplified with trap1737 and trap-981f). This construct was inserted into the vector MB38, which is the response plasmid of tetracycline-regulated gene expression system (tet-off system) for Dictyostelim cells (TRAP1-RNAi MB38) (Blaauw et al., 2000). The transactivator plasmid of tet-off system (MB35) was initially introduced into Ax-2 cells by electroporation, and the transformed cells (MB35 cells) were selected and cloned with 30 μg/ml of G418. The TRAP1-RNAi MB38 vector was introduced into MB35 cells by electroporation, and double-transformed cells (TRAP1-RNAi cells) were selected and cloned with 30 μg/ml of G418 and 10 μg/ml of blasticidin S. TRAP1-RNAi cells were subcultured in PS-medium with 30 μg/ml of G418, 10 μg/ml of blasticidin S and 20 μg/ml of tetracycline (Sigma). To monitor the development of TRAP1-RANi cells with food bacteria, the bacterial lawn was prepared by incubating Escherichia coli (B/r) on 3LP plate (0.3% Bacto peptone (Difco), 0.3% lactose, 2% agarose). Then, TRAP1-RANi cells cultured axenically in the absence of tetracycline for 2 days were placed as a small droplet on the bacterial lawn and incubated for 2 days at 22°C to allow development.

Isolation of total RNAs and northern hybridization

Total RNAs were prepared from vegetatively growing cells or cells starved in non-nutrient medium, using TRIzol Reagent (Life Technologies) as described by the manufacturer (GibcoBRL). Northern hybridization was carried out as previously described (Inazu et al., 1999).

Immunostaining of cells using the Dd-TRAP1 antibody

Cells that had been allowed to adhere to coverslips were fixed twice with 99.6% methanol including 0.1% glutaraldehyde (10 minutes for each). The fixed samples were stained with the anti-Dd-TRAP1 antibody, as previously described (Morita et al., 2002). In the case of double-staining with MitoTracker, cells were incubated in BSS containing 1 μM MitoTracker Orange CMTMRos (Molecular Probes) for 30 minutes before the fixation.

Introduction of the Dd-TRAP1 antibody by electroporation

Ax-2 cells growing at a low cell density (1.0-1.5×106 cells/ml) or a high cell density (1.0-1.5×107 cells/ml) were separately harvested and suspended in electroporation buffer [EB; 10 mM phosphate buffer (pH 6.2), 50 mM sucrose] at a density of 2×107 cells/ml. 400 μl of the cell suspension were placed on ice for 10 minutes, and then electroporated in EB containing 5 μl of the Dd-TRAP1 antibody, non-immune serum or BSS. The samples were placed on ice for 10 minutes to heal the damage of electroporation, and washed with PS-medium or BSS. To allow cells to differentiate, starved cells were plated in a 24-well titer plate at a density of 5×105 cells/cm2 and incubated at 22°C.

Results

Dd-TRAP1 is translocated to mitochondria by stimulation of prestarvation factors

In cells growing at a low cell density (<5×105 cells/ml), Dd-TRAP1 was mainly localized in the cortical region, as previously reported (Fig. 1A). When the cell density reached over 2-3×106 cells/ml, Dd-TRAP1 translocated to the mitochondria, although a small amount was retained in the cell cortex (Fig. 1A,B). This behavior of Dd-TRAP1 raises the possibility that growing cells secrete a factor(s) that induces Dd-TRAP1 translocation, and that this factor(s) accumulates in growth medium as the cell density increases. To examine the effect of secreted factors on Dd-TRAP1 translocation, Ax-2 cells growing at low cell density (5×105 cells/ml), in which Dd-TRAP1 was localized in the cell cortex, were harvested and incubated in conditioned growth medium (CGM) in which Ax-2 cells had been grown up to the late exponential growth phase (8×106 cells/ml). As a result, Dd-TRAP1 was found to quickly translocate to mitochondria within 1 minute of incubation even at low density (Fig. 1C), suggesting that the CGM contains a prestarvation factor(s) that induces Dd-TRAP1 translocation. Maeda and Iijima reported that when cells growing at a high cell density (5×106 cells/ml) are transferred to fresh growth medium, their developmental competence, acquired by the prestarvation response (PSR), is lost within 30 minutes of incubation (Maeda and Iijima, 1992). Similarly, when Ax-2 cells growing at the late exponential growth phase (8×106 cells/ml) were transferred to fresh growth medium, Dd-TRAP1 located in mitochondria quickly returned to the cell cortex within 30 minutes of incubation in fresh growth medium, as shown in Fig. 1D.

Fig. 1.

Translocation of Dd-TRAP1 from the cell cortex to mitochondria is induced by prestarvation factor(s). (A) Change in subcellular localization of Dd-TRAP1 due to increased cell density. Ax-2 cells grown at the indicated cell density were fixed and immunostained with the Dd-TRAP1 antibody. Dd-TRAP1 is translocated from the cell cortex to cytoplasmic granules as the density of growth-phase cells increases. Bar, 5 μm. (B) Ax-2 cells grown at 4×106 cells/ml were incubated with 1 μM MitoTracker for 30 minutes and fixed for immunostaining with the Dd-TRAP1 antibody. The merged image indicates that Dd-TRAP1 is localized in mitochondria at a high cell density. Bar, 5 μm. (C) Effect of CGM (conditioned growth medium) on the Dd-TRAP1 translocation. CGM was prepared from Ax-2 cells that had been grown to a high cell density (1.5×107 cells/ml). Cells grown at a low cell density (3-5×105 cells/ml) were allowed to adhere to coverslips, and incubated in the CGM. After the indicated time of incubation, the cells were fixed and immunostained with the Dd-TRAP1 antibody. Bar, 5 μm. (D) Cells grown at high cell density (8×106 cells/ml) were harvested and transferred to fresh growth medium at low cell density (5×105 cells/ml). After 30 minutes of incubation, cells were fixed and immunostained with the Dd-TRAP1 antibody. Compared with cells before transfer to CGM (a), it is evident that Dd-TRAP1 goes back to the cell cortex after 30 minutes of incubation in fresh growth medium (b). Bar, 5 μm.

Fig. 1.

Translocation of Dd-TRAP1 from the cell cortex to mitochondria is induced by prestarvation factor(s). (A) Change in subcellular localization of Dd-TRAP1 due to increased cell density. Ax-2 cells grown at the indicated cell density were fixed and immunostained with the Dd-TRAP1 antibody. Dd-TRAP1 is translocated from the cell cortex to cytoplasmic granules as the density of growth-phase cells increases. Bar, 5 μm. (B) Ax-2 cells grown at 4×106 cells/ml were incubated with 1 μM MitoTracker for 30 minutes and fixed for immunostaining with the Dd-TRAP1 antibody. The merged image indicates that Dd-TRAP1 is localized in mitochondria at a high cell density. Bar, 5 μm. (C) Effect of CGM (conditioned growth medium) on the Dd-TRAP1 translocation. CGM was prepared from Ax-2 cells that had been grown to a high cell density (1.5×107 cells/ml). Cells grown at a low cell density (3-5×105 cells/ml) were allowed to adhere to coverslips, and incubated in the CGM. After the indicated time of incubation, the cells were fixed and immunostained with the Dd-TRAP1 antibody. Bar, 5 μm. (D) Cells grown at high cell density (8×106 cells/ml) were harvested and transferred to fresh growth medium at low cell density (5×105 cells/ml). After 30 minutes of incubation, cells were fixed and immunostained with the Dd-TRAP1 antibody. Compared with cells before transfer to CGM (a), it is evident that Dd-TRAP1 goes back to the cell cortex after 30 minutes of incubation in fresh growth medium (b). Bar, 5 μm.

TRAP1-RNAi cells show a significant defect in PSR

To analyze whether Dd-TRAP1 is involved in PSR, we have tried repeatedly to isolate Dd-TRAP1-null cells by homologous recombination. Although many clones (n=30) with the Bsr-resistance gene cassette were analyzed by western blotting using the Dd-TRAP1 antibody, all of them expressed Dd-TRAP1 at normal levels (data not shown). We also attempted to isolate transformants in which the expression of Dd-TRAP1 was suppressed by antisense RNA-mediated gene inactivation. In spite of many trials, transformants with strongly reduced Dd-TRAP1 levels were never obtained. Therefore, it is most likely that Dd-TRAP1 is essential for vegetative growth, as is the case for other members of the Hsp90 family. We then tried to isolate Dd-TRAP1 conditional knockdown transformants by a combination of RNA interference technique (RNAi) and tetracycline-regulated gene expression system (tet-off system) (Martens et al., 2002; Blaauw et al., 2000). We designed a construct for expression of double-strand RNA (dsRNA) directed against the middle part of dd-trap1 (Fig. 2A), and introduced this construct into MB35 cells that had been transformed by the transactivator plasmid of the tet-off system to produce TRAP1-RNAi cells. In TRAP1-RNAi cells, the expression of the dsRNA was regulated by the tet-off system. In the presence of 20 μg/ml of tetracycline, the Dd-TRAP1 expression was scarcely suppressed and TRAP1-RNAi cells grew normally with a doubling time of 8.9 hours (doubling time of parental MB35 cells; 8.4 hours) (Fig. 2B). However, the level of Dd-TRAP1 expression in TRAP1-RNAi cells was gradually decreased during incubation in the absence of tetracycline, reaching approximately 10% of their initial value by 3 days. As the level of Dd-TRAP1 expression was decreased, the growth rate of TRAP1-RNAi cells declined considerably (t; >24 hours) (Fig. 2B). However, the effects of the dsRNA on Dd-TRAP1 expression and cell growth were gradually nullified after 5 days of incubation. This might be due to the appearance of cells in which Dd-TRAP1 expression was less suppressed allowing them to grow normally. In addition, the expression levels of other members of the Dictyostelium Hsp90 family, Dd-GRP94 and Hsc90, did not change during the whole course of incubation, which suggests that the dsRNA of dd-trap1 does not have any non-specific effects.

Fig. 2.

RNAi-mediated conditional knockdown of Dd-TRAP1. (A) Two PCR products (756 bp and 1198 bp) were ligated tail to tail, and inserted into the MB38 vector. The 756 bp inverted repeat (dark bar) and the 442 bp linker sequence (white bar) form a stem-loop RNA (dsRNA). (B) Growth kinetics of TRAP1-RNAi cells and parental MB35 cells. TRAP1-RNAi cells were cultured with 20 μg/ml of tetracycline (○) or without (▵), and cell-numbers were counted every 24 hours. As a control, the parental MB35 cells were also cultured without tetracycline (□). At the exponential growth phase, when cell density reached over 5×106 cells/ml, cells were diluted with fresh growth medium to a density of 1×105 cells/ml. Total proteins were extracted every 24 hours for 7 days from these cultures, and western analyses were performed using the anti-Dd-TRAP1, anti-Dd-GRP94 and anti-Hsc90 antibodies.

Fig. 2.

RNAi-mediated conditional knockdown of Dd-TRAP1. (A) Two PCR products (756 bp and 1198 bp) were ligated tail to tail, and inserted into the MB38 vector. The 756 bp inverted repeat (dark bar) and the 442 bp linker sequence (white bar) form a stem-loop RNA (dsRNA). (B) Growth kinetics of TRAP1-RNAi cells and parental MB35 cells. TRAP1-RNAi cells were cultured with 20 μg/ml of tetracycline (○) or without (▵), and cell-numbers were counted every 24 hours. As a control, the parental MB35 cells were also cultured without tetracycline (□). At the exponential growth phase, when cell density reached over 5×106 cells/ml, cells were diluted with fresh growth medium to a density of 1×105 cells/ml. Total proteins were extracted every 24 hours for 7 days from these cultures, and western analyses were performed using the anti-Dd-TRAP1, anti-Dd-GRP94 and anti-Hsc90 antibodies.

When starved MB35 cells were developed under submerged conditions, they acquired an aggregation competence and aggregated into streams after 6-7 hours of starvation (Fig. 3A). By contrast, starving TRAP1-RNAi cells, which had been cultured for 2 days in the absence of tetracycline to suppress the expression of Dd-TRAP1, showed considerably delayed differentiation (Fig. 3A). To determine whether TRAP1-RNAi cells can induce a prestarvation response, we examined the expression pattern of several prestarvation genes in axenically growing TRAP1-RNAi cells. As previously described (Wetterauer et al., 1995), the expression of discoidin I and car1 genes was induced by a prestarvation response in axenically growing MB35 cells. Unexpectedly, however, no significant differences in their expression were detected between growing TRAP1-RNAi cells and MB35 cells. The dia1 and dia3 genes were initially isolated as differentiation-associated genes, specifically expressed in cells differentiating from the PS point (Inazu et al., 1999; Hirose et al., 2000). In the present work, we found that these genes are moderately expressed even in vegetative Ax-2 cells, and their expression gradually increased and reached a peak at the late exponential growth phase, followed by a decrease or disappearance at the stationary growth phase. This finding indicates that dia1 and dia3 are prestarvation genes as well as differentiation-associated genes. Interestingly, the prestarvation response did not induce expression of dia1 and dia3 in TRAP1-RNAi cells (Fig. 3B). In addition, when TRAP1-RNAi cells were spotted on the bacterial lawn to allow them to develop, they formed aggregates much further away from the feeding edge than those formed by parental MB35 cells (Fig. 3C). This strongly suggests that growing TRAP1-RNAi cells fail to calculate correctly the cell density of their population relative to the density of the remaining nutrients because of the defect in their prestarvation response.

Fig. 3.

TRAP1-RNAi cells showing a significant defect in prestarvation response. (A) TRAP1-RNAi cells cultured for 2 days in the absence of tetracycline, and parental MB35 cells were separately harvested, starved and plated in 24-well plates at 5×105 cells/cm2. This was followed by incubation for the indicated times at 22°C. Bars, 200 μm. (B) Expression patterns of prestarvation genes discoidin I, car1, dia1 and dia3 in TRAP1-RNAi cells and MB35 cells. TRAP1-RNAi cells cultured for 2 days in the absence of tetracycline, and MB35 cells were separately harvested at the indicated cell density or stationary growth phase (1.5-2.0×107 cells/ml, S), followed by extraction of total RNAs. The RNAs (40 μg for each) were size-fractionated and analyzed by northern blots using the cDNA probe of each gene. (C) TRAP1-RNAi cells cultured axenically in the absence of tetracycline for 2 days, and parental MB35 cells were spotted on the bacterial lawn, and incubated for 2 days at 22°C to allow them to develop. Bar, 1 mm (top panels), 500 μm (lower panels).

Fig. 3.

TRAP1-RNAi cells showing a significant defect in prestarvation response. (A) TRAP1-RNAi cells cultured for 2 days in the absence of tetracycline, and parental MB35 cells were separately harvested, starved and plated in 24-well plates at 5×105 cells/cm2. This was followed by incubation for the indicated times at 22°C. Bars, 200 μm. (B) Expression patterns of prestarvation genes discoidin I, car1, dia1 and dia3 in TRAP1-RNAi cells and MB35 cells. TRAP1-RNAi cells cultured for 2 days in the absence of tetracycline, and MB35 cells were separately harvested at the indicated cell density or stationary growth phase (1.5-2.0×107 cells/ml, S), followed by extraction of total RNAs. The RNAs (40 μg for each) were size-fractionated and analyzed by northern blots using the cDNA probe of each gene. (C) TRAP1-RNAi cells cultured axenically in the absence of tetracycline for 2 days, and parental MB35 cells were spotted on the bacterial lawn, and incubated for 2 days at 22°C to allow them to develop. Bar, 1 mm (top panels), 500 μm (lower panels).

The overexpression of Dd-TRAP1 induces the early prestarvation response

We have isolated TRAP1-overexpressing (TRAP1OE) cells by introduction of the vector (pDNeo2-Dd-TRAP1) into Ax-2 cells. After a densitometric analysis of western blots, the expression level of Dd-TRAP1 in TRAP1OE cells was found to be approximately three times higher than in parental Ax-2 cells. Importantly, in TRAP1OE cells the early localization of Dd-TRAP1 to mitochondria occurred even at a low cell density (0.5-1.0×106 cells/ml) (Fig. 4A). We examined the expression patterns of prestarvation genes (discoidin I, car1, dia1 and dia3) in axenically growing TRAP1OE cells. As was expected from the above results obtained using TRAP1-RNAi cells, the expression patterns of discoidin I and car1 in TRAP1OE cells were the same as those in parental Ax-2 cells (Fig. 4B). By contrast, the expression of dia1 and dia3 was significantly increased in TRAP1OE cells, possibly through enhancement of a PSR pathway via overexpression of Dd-TRAP1 (Fig. 4B). TRAP1OE cells exhibited a growth rate slightly slower than that of parental Ax-2 cells and occasionally formed cell aggregates even in growth medium, which were never seen with parental Ax-2 cells (Fig. 4C). This phenotype is somewhat similar to that of transformants exhibiting early PSR (Souza et al., 1998; Colosimo and Katz, 2001). When these TRAP1OE aggregates were treated with 10 mM EDTA, they did not dissociate (data not shown), indicating that the cell contacts are mediated by EDTA-resistant adhesion molecules, which are usually expressed only during the differentiation phase (Gerisch, 1961). Moreover, when single cells that had not participated in aggregate formation were gently shaken in 16 mM phosphate buffer (pH 6.4), they rapidly acquired the EDTA-resistant adhesiveness (Fig. 4D). To test whether TRAP1OE cells forming aggregates can take in external nutrients for proliferation, they were cultured for 60 minutes in PS-medium containing 3 mg/ml of FITC-dextran (FD50) as a fluid-phase marker to monitor their pinocytotic activity. Since little or no pinocytotic activity was detected in TRAP1OE cells, they must be starving even in the presence of external nutrients. More notably, some cells in the aggregate were found to contain prespore-specific vacuoles (PSVs), the organelles specifically present in prespore cells (data not shown). These results indicate that at least a proportion of TRAP1OE cells undergo an early transit into the differentiation phase even in the presence of nutrients, possibly through PSR-enhancement.

Fig. 4.

Early prestarvation response observed in TRAP1OE cells. (A) The localization of Dd-TRAP1 in growing TRAP1OE cells. Vegetatively growing TRAP1OE cells and parental Ax-2 cells were harvested at a density of 0.5-1.0×106 cells/ml and fixed for immunostaining with the Dd-TRAP1 antibody. Bar, 5 μm. (B) Expression patterns of early developmental genes discoidin I, car1, dia1 and dia3 in TRAP1OE cells and parental Ax-2 cells. TRAP1OE cells and parental Ax-2 (clone MS) cells were separately harvested at the indicated cell density of exponential growth phase (0.25-3×106 cells/ml), followed by extraction of total RNAs to detect the expression of discoidin I (upper two panels). In another experiment, cells were harvested at the exponential growth phase (1-5×106 cells/ml) or stationary growth phase (1.5-2.0×107 cells/ml, S), followed by extraction of total RNAs. The RNAs (40 μg for each) were size-fractionated and analyzed by northern blots using the cDNA probe of each gene. (C) TRAP1OE cells assemble into 3D aggregates, even in the presence of nutrients. Bar, 100 μm. (D) Early acquisition of EDTA-resistant adhesion in TRAP1OE cells. Ax-2 and TRAP1OE cells were separately starved and shaken gently in 16 mM phosphate buffer (pH 6.4) at a density of 1×107 cells/ml. After 3 hours of shaking, 10 mM EDTA was added to prevent the EDTA-sensitive cell-cell adhesion. Under this condition, only TRAP1OE cells form many aggregates. Bar, 100 μm.

Fig. 4.

Early prestarvation response observed in TRAP1OE cells. (A) The localization of Dd-TRAP1 in growing TRAP1OE cells. Vegetatively growing TRAP1OE cells and parental Ax-2 cells were harvested at a density of 0.5-1.0×106 cells/ml and fixed for immunostaining with the Dd-TRAP1 antibody. Bar, 5 μm. (B) Expression patterns of early developmental genes discoidin I, car1, dia1 and dia3 in TRAP1OE cells and parental Ax-2 cells. TRAP1OE cells and parental Ax-2 (clone MS) cells were separately harvested at the indicated cell density of exponential growth phase (0.25-3×106 cells/ml), followed by extraction of total RNAs to detect the expression of discoidin I (upper two panels). In another experiment, cells were harvested at the exponential growth phase (1-5×106 cells/ml) or stationary growth phase (1.5-2.0×107 cells/ml, S), followed by extraction of total RNAs. The RNAs (40 μg for each) were size-fractionated and analyzed by northern blots using the cDNA probe of each gene. (C) TRAP1OE cells assemble into 3D aggregates, even in the presence of nutrients. Bar, 100 μm. (D) Early acquisition of EDTA-resistant adhesion in TRAP1OE cells. Ax-2 and TRAP1OE cells were separately starved and shaken gently in 16 mM phosphate buffer (pH 6.4) at a density of 1×107 cells/ml. After 3 hours of shaking, 10 mM EDTA was added to prevent the EDTA-sensitive cell-cell adhesion. Under this condition, only TRAP1OE cells form many aggregates. Bar, 100 μm.

A novel PSF-pathway mediated by Dd-TRAP1

The 65-70 kDa glycoprotein (PSF, renamed PSF-1) is the best-established prestarvation factor (Clarke et al., 1987; Clarke et al., 1988). Its activity is usually measured as the increased discoidin I expression in growth phase cells, but Dd-TRAP1 is not involved in the expression of discoidin I as described in the preceding section (Fig. 3B, Fig. 4B). Burdine and Clarke have reported that prestarvation genes such as discoidin I and PDE (cAMP phosphodiesterase; pdsA) are barely induced in PKAcat-null cells, but their expression is normal in Gβ-null cells, suggesting that the PSR as assayed by discoidin I expression is regulated by PKA, but not by the G-protein β subunit (Burdine and Clarke, 1995). Importantly, the translocation of Dd-TRAP1 to mitochondria is observed both in Gβ-null and in PKAcat-null cells (Fig. 5A), suggesting that neither is required for the translocation of Dd-TRAP1 to mitochondria. PSF-1 is sensitive both to protease and to heat treatment (Clarke et al., 1988; Rathi and Clarke, 1992), but another prestarvation factor (PSF′, renamed PSF-2) (Maeda and Iijima, 1992) is fairly stable to heat treatment. Conditioned growth medium (CGM) treated with protease (500 μg/ml of pronase E) for 1 hour at 37°C was found to retain activity, but activity was lost if it was boiled for 15 minutes before use (Fig. 5B). In addition, a crude fraction obtained by 80% saturated (NH4)2SO4-fractionation of CGM was found to have a potent capacity for transferring the cortical Dd-TRAP1 into mitochondria. These results indicate that Dd-TRAP1 translocation from the cell cortex to mitochondria is induced by a novel prestarvation factor (referred to as PSF-3), differing from PSF-1 and PSF-2.

Fig. 5.

A novel prestarvation response. (A) Gβ-null and PKAcat-null cells grown at 3-5×106 cells/ml were fixed and immunostained with the Dd-TRAP1 antibody. In both transformants, Dd-TRAP1 is translocated to mitochondria, thus indicating that neither heterotrimeric G proteins nor PKA are required for the Dd-TRAP1 translocation. Bar, 5 μm (B) CGM was prepared from Ax-2 cells that had been grown up to a high cell density (8×106 cells/ml). As control cells, growth-phase Ax-2 cells at a low cell density (5×105 cells/ml) were harvested and resuspended in fresh growth medium (FGM) or CGM at 5×105 cells/ml. After 3 hours of incubation, cells were fixed and immunostained with the Dd-TRAP1 antibody. In another experiment, cells were incubated in the CGM, either pretreated with protease (30 μg/ml of pronase E) (CGM/protease) or boiled for 15 minutes (+CGM/heat). Bar, 5 μm.

Fig. 5.

A novel prestarvation response. (A) Gβ-null and PKAcat-null cells grown at 3-5×106 cells/ml were fixed and immunostained with the Dd-TRAP1 antibody. In both transformants, Dd-TRAP1 is translocated to mitochondria, thus indicating that neither heterotrimeric G proteins nor PKA are required for the Dd-TRAP1 translocation. Bar, 5 μm (B) CGM was prepared from Ax-2 cells that had been grown up to a high cell density (8×106 cells/ml). As control cells, growth-phase Ax-2 cells at a low cell density (5×105 cells/ml) were harvested and resuspended in fresh growth medium (FGM) or CGM at 5×105 cells/ml. After 3 hours of incubation, cells were fixed and immunostained with the Dd-TRAP1 antibody. In another experiment, cells were incubated in the CGM, either pretreated with protease (30 μg/ml of pronase E) (CGM/protease) or boiled for 15 minutes (+CGM/heat). Bar, 5 μm.

Dd-TRAP1 prevents the early developmental progress by the suppression of dia3 and car1 gene expressions

Starving Ax-2 cells aggregated into streams after 7-8 hours of incubation and then formed tight mounds under submerged conditions (Fig. 6Aa,b). By contrast, starving TRAP1OE cells developed more slowly and remained as aggregation-streams even after 24 hours of starvation (Fig. 6Ac,d), even though they had experienced an early PSR during growth. The aggregation-streams formed by TRAP1OE cells never developed to tight mounds during a prolonged time (3 days) of starvation. In addition, 30% or more plated TRAP1OE cells remained as non-aggregated single cells. Such abnormal morphogenesis was also observed when starved TRAP1OE cells were incubated on 1.5% non-nutrient agar (Fig. 6Ae-h). To examine how the enforced expression of Dd-TRAP1 leads to a delay in development, the expression patterns of several developmental genes in TRAP1OE cells were compared with those in parental Ax-2 cells. As shown in Fig. 6B, car1 expression was only slightly reduced at 2-4 hours of starvation in TRAP1OE cells, and dia3 expression was severely suppressed until 6 hours of starvation. The expression of the gene lagC, which is a postaggregative gene, was also delayed in TRAP1OE cells, thus being consistent with their slow aggregation. By contrast, expression of dia1 and csA genes was found to be greatly increased in TRAP1OE cells. Expression of dia1 has been reported to negatively regulate the transition from growth to differentiation (Hirose et al., 2000). To know if the delayed morphogenesis of TRAP1OE cells is caused by overexpression of the dia1 gene, Dd-TRAP1 was overexpressed in a dia1-null mutant (TRAP1OE/dia1 cells). Under submerged conditions, aggregation of starved TRAP1OE/dia1 cells was delayed and many of them remained as single cells even after 22 hours of starvation, as is the case for TRAP1OE cells (Fig. 6Ca-d). However, a few populations of TRAP1OE/dia1 cells were able to form tiny tight mounds, in contrast to TRAP1OE cells, which never formed tight mounds under submerged conditions. This slight difference between TRAP1OE cells and TRAP1OE/dia1 cells might be due to the difference in clones used as parental cells: dia1 cells are derived from Ax-2 (clone 8A) cells, whereas TRAP1OE cells are from Ax-2 (clone MS) cells. The 8A cells develop almost normally without delay when harvested at a relatively low cell density of around 1×105 cells/ml and starved. Actually, Dd-TRAP1OE cells isolated from Ax-2 (clone 8A) cells were also capable of forming tiny tight mounds under submerged conditions, although their developmental program was markedly delayed. When starved TRAP1OE/dia1 cells were developed on 1.5% non-nutrient agar, they needed a longer time to aggregate than parental dia1 cells (Fig. 6Ce-h). Moreover, TRAP1OE/dia1 cells formed numerous aggregation centers and hence many tiny mounds, resulting thus in the formation of tiny fruiting bodies.

Fig. 6.

Delayed differentiation of TRAP1OE cells and TRAP1OE/dia1 cells. (A) TRAP1OE and parental Ax-2 cells grown at 1-2×106 cells/ml were separately harvested, starved and plated either in a 24-well plate at 5×105 cells/cm2 (a-d) or on non-nutrient agar at 2.5×105 cells/cm2 (e-h). This was followed by incubation for the indicated times at 22°C. Bars, 200 μm (a-d); 500 μm (e-h). (B) Expression patterns of car1, dia3, lagC, dia1 and csA in starved TRAP1OE cells. At the indicated times of starvation, total RNAs were extracted from TRAP1OE and parental Ax-2 cells. The RNAs (20 μg for each) were size-fractionated and analyzed by northern blots using the cDNA probe of each gene. In starved TRAP1OE cells, dia1 and csA genes are expressed early, while the expression patterns of car1, dia3 and lagC genes are rather delayed. (C) dia1 and TRAP1OE/dia1 cells grown at 1-2×106 cells/ml were separately harvested, starved and plated either in a 24-well plate at 5×105 cells/cm2 (a-d) or on non-nutrient agar at 2.5×105 cells/cm2 (e-h). This was followed by incubation for the indicated times at 22°C. Bars, 200 μm (a-d); 500 μm (e-h).

Fig. 6.

Delayed differentiation of TRAP1OE cells and TRAP1OE/dia1 cells. (A) TRAP1OE and parental Ax-2 cells grown at 1-2×106 cells/ml were separately harvested, starved and plated either in a 24-well plate at 5×105 cells/cm2 (a-d) or on non-nutrient agar at 2.5×105 cells/cm2 (e-h). This was followed by incubation for the indicated times at 22°C. Bars, 200 μm (a-d); 500 μm (e-h). (B) Expression patterns of car1, dia3, lagC, dia1 and csA in starved TRAP1OE cells. At the indicated times of starvation, total RNAs were extracted from TRAP1OE and parental Ax-2 cells. The RNAs (20 μg for each) were size-fractionated and analyzed by northern blots using the cDNA probe of each gene. In starved TRAP1OE cells, dia1 and csA genes are expressed early, while the expression patterns of car1, dia3 and lagC genes are rather delayed. (C) dia1 and TRAP1OE/dia1 cells grown at 1-2×106 cells/ml were separately harvested, starved and plated either in a 24-well plate at 5×105 cells/cm2 (a-d) or on non-nutrient agar at 2.5×105 cells/cm2 (e-h). This was followed by incubation for the indicated times at 22°C. Bars, 200 μm (a-d); 500 μm (e-h).

Recovery of the development competence by cAMP pulses

To know whether the delay of differentiation in TRAP1OE cells is reversed by exogenously added cAMP pulses, cells growing at 1-3×106 cells/ml were harvested and starved for 6 hours with or without exogenous cAMP pulses under submerged conditions. Pulsed TRAP1OE cells acquired aggregation-competence earlier (after 6.5 hours of starvation) than those without cAMP pulses (Fig. 7A). Therefore, a defect in the cAMP signaling system may be one of the causes for delayed differentiation in TRAP1OE cells. However, TRAP1OE cells that were starved with cAMP pulses were unable to form tight mounds even after 24 hours of starvation under submerged conditions (Fig. 7A). Further, the expression of car1 was barely induced by cAMP pulses in TRAP1OE cells, at least during 4 hours of starvation (Fig. 7B).

Fig. 7.

Partial recovery of the delayed differentiation observed in TRAP1OE cells. (A) TRAP1OE cells grown at 1-3×106 cells/ml were harvested, and shaken in BSS for 6 hours with or without 50 nM cAMP pulses externally applied at 6-minute intervals, followed by incubation in 24-well plates. The incubation times after starvation are shown. Bar, 150 μm. (B) Effect of exogenously applied cAMP pulses on the induction of car1 expression in TRAP1OE cells. Total RNAs were extracted from TRAP1OE and Ax-2 cells shaken with (+) or without (–) cAMP pulses for the indicated times. Northern blots were performed using the cDNA probe of car1 gene. (C) TRAP1OE cells grown up to a high cell density (>1×107 cells/ml) exhibit no delay of differentiation. TRAP1OE and Ax-2 cells grown at the indicated cell densities were harvested, starved and developed under submerged conditions. These cells acquired aggregation competence after the indicated times of starvation, assuming elongated cell shape. The results of two independent experiments are presented. (D) The localization of Dd-TRAP1 in TRAP1OE and Ax-2 cells. Ax-2 cells (a) and TRAP1OE cells (b) grown at 1-2×106 cells/ml were separately harvested and shaken in BSS for 6 hours, followed by immunostaining with the Dd-TRAP1 antibody. A significant number of Dd-TRAP1 molecules were found to be retained in the cell cortex of TRAP1OE cells (arrowhead). By contrast, when TRAP1OE cells were harvested at the early stationary phase (>1×107 cells/ml) and starved for 6 hours, most of Dd-TRAP1 were translocated to mitochondria (c). Bar, 5 μm.

Fig. 7.

Partial recovery of the delayed differentiation observed in TRAP1OE cells. (A) TRAP1OE cells grown at 1-3×106 cells/ml were harvested, and shaken in BSS for 6 hours with or without 50 nM cAMP pulses externally applied at 6-minute intervals, followed by incubation in 24-well plates. The incubation times after starvation are shown. Bar, 150 μm. (B) Effect of exogenously applied cAMP pulses on the induction of car1 expression in TRAP1OE cells. Total RNAs were extracted from TRAP1OE and Ax-2 cells shaken with (+) or without (–) cAMP pulses for the indicated times. Northern blots were performed using the cDNA probe of car1 gene. (C) TRAP1OE cells grown up to a high cell density (>1×107 cells/ml) exhibit no delay of differentiation. TRAP1OE and Ax-2 cells grown at the indicated cell densities were harvested, starved and developed under submerged conditions. These cells acquired aggregation competence after the indicated times of starvation, assuming elongated cell shape. The results of two independent experiments are presented. (D) The localization of Dd-TRAP1 in TRAP1OE and Ax-2 cells. Ax-2 cells (a) and TRAP1OE cells (b) grown at 1-2×106 cells/ml were separately harvested and shaken in BSS for 6 hours, followed by immunostaining with the Dd-TRAP1 antibody. A significant number of Dd-TRAP1 molecules were found to be retained in the cell cortex of TRAP1OE cells (arrowhead). By contrast, when TRAP1OE cells were harvested at the early stationary phase (>1×107 cells/ml) and starved for 6 hours, most of Dd-TRAP1 were translocated to mitochondria (c). Bar, 5 μm.

Delayed differentiation of TRAP1OE cells is partially restored after growth to high cell density

Fig. 7C shows the relation of cell densities in growth medium at the time-point of starvation to elapsed time required for acquisition of aggregation-competence. When Ax-2 (clone MS) cells growing at 5×105 cells/ml were harvested and starved, they needed 10 hours or more to acquire aggregation competence and failed to form tight aggregates under submerged conditions. Ax-2 cells growing above 1×106 cells/ml, however, acquired aggregation competence after 5-8 hours of starvation (Fig. 7C), and they were able to form tight aggregates. As described in the preceding section, TRAP1OE cells grown to less than 4×106 cells/ml failed to acquire aggregation-competence until 10 hours or more of starvation and never formed tight mounds, as observed in Ax-2 cells growing at low cell densities (<1×106 cells/ml) (Fig. 7C). However, when TRAP1OE cells grown to relatively high densities (>5×106 cells/ml) were harvested and starved, their developmental ability was largely restored, resulting in formation of tight mounds under submerged conditions (Fig. 7C). This raised the possibility that the phenotype observed in TRAP1OE cells might be closely related to the subcellular localization of Dd-TRAP1 at the onset of starvation. To test this possibility, the localization of Dd-TRAP1 in starving TRAP1OE cells was compared with that in parental Ax-2 cells. In Ax-2 cells harvested at low densities (<2×106 cells/ml), Dd-TRAP1 translocation from the cell cortex to mitochondria began after starvation and was completed by 6 hours of starvation (Fig. 7Da) (Morita et al., 2002). In TRAP1OE cells harvested at a high density (8×106 cells/ml), however, most Dd-TRAP1 was already translocated to mitochondria before starvation, and translocation was complete just after starvation (Fig. 7Dc). Here it is worthy to note that in TRAP1OE cells harvested at low cell densities (1-2×106 cells/ml) and starved, most of Dd-TRAP1 is translocated to mitochondria, but a significant amount of Dd-TRAP1 remained in the cell cortex even after 6 hours of starvation (Fig. 7Db).

Dd-TRAP1 retained in the cell cortex prevents the transition of cells from growth to differentiation

We also attempted to inhibit the function of Dd-TRAP1 by introducing directly the Dd-TRAP1 antibody into cells. For this, Ax-2 cells growing at a low cell density (1.0-1.5×106 cells/ml) were harvested and electroporated in EB containing 5 μl/ml of anti-Dd-TRAP1 serum. For the controls, cells were electroporated with the non-immune serum or without any sera. After electroporation, cells were incubated either in growth medium or in starvation medium to observe the effects of Dd-TRAP1 antibody on cell proliferation and differentiation. The cells electroporated with the non-immune serum or the Dd-TRAP1 antiserum grew at the same rate as those electroporated without any sera, suggesting that the incorporated serum has no toxic effect on cells. By contrast, cells into which the Dd-TRAP1 antibody had been introduced exhibited delayed aggregation and never formed tight aggregates, even after 24 hours of incubation (Fig. 8A). This effect was caused by the inhibition of the Dd-TRAP1 translocation. In Ax-2 cells with the Dd-TRAP1 antibody, a significant amount of Dd-TRAP1 remained in the cell cortex even after 6 hours of starvation, whereas Dd-TRAP1 was completely translocated to mitochondria in the control cells (Fig. 8B). To determine whether the inhibitory effect of the Dd-TRAP1 antibody on differentiation is due to failure of Dd-TRAP1 to be translocated to mitochondria, we introduced the Dd-TRAP1 antibody into Ax-2 cells growing at a high cell density (1.0-1.5×107 cells/ml), in which Dd-TRAP1 had already been translocated to mitochondria. Our results clearly showed that the introduced Dd-TRAP1 antibody has no effect on early differentiation of the starved cells (Fig. 8C).

Fig. 8.

Loss of Dd-TRAP1 functions by introduction of the Dd-TRAP1 antibody into cells. (A) To introduce the Dd-TRAP1 antibody into Ax-2 cells, cells grown at 1×106 cells/ml were harvested and electroporated with the antiserum raised against Dd-TRAP1 (anti-TRAP1 serum). As controls, cells were also electroporated with non-immune serum (non-immune serum) or without any serum (control). After electroporation, cells were incubated in BSS for the indicated times to allow differentiation. Bar, 250 μm. (B) Ax-2 cells grown at a low density (1×106 cells/ml) were harvested and electroporated with or without the anti-TRAP1 serum. This was followed by incubation in BSS for 6 hours at 22°C and subsequent immunostaining with the Dd-TRAP1 antibody. Arrowheads indicate the Dd-TRAP1 remained in the cell cortex. Bar, 5 μm. (C) Ax-2 cells grown at a high density (1-1.5×107 cells/ml) were harvested and electroporated with or without the anti-TRAP1 serum. This was followed by incubation in BSS for the indicated times under submerged conditions. Bar, 250 μm.

Fig. 8.

Loss of Dd-TRAP1 functions by introduction of the Dd-TRAP1 antibody into cells. (A) To introduce the Dd-TRAP1 antibody into Ax-2 cells, cells grown at 1×106 cells/ml were harvested and electroporated with the antiserum raised against Dd-TRAP1 (anti-TRAP1 serum). As controls, cells were also electroporated with non-immune serum (non-immune serum) or without any serum (control). After electroporation, cells were incubated in BSS for the indicated times to allow differentiation. Bar, 250 μm. (B) Ax-2 cells grown at a low density (1×106 cells/ml) were harvested and electroporated with or without the anti-TRAP1 serum. This was followed by incubation in BSS for 6 hours at 22°C and subsequent immunostaining with the Dd-TRAP1 antibody. Arrowheads indicate the Dd-TRAP1 remained in the cell cortex. Bar, 5 μm. (C) Ax-2 cells grown at a high density (1-1.5×107 cells/ml) were harvested and electroporated with or without the anti-TRAP1 serum. This was followed by incubation in BSS for the indicated times under submerged conditions. Bar, 250 μm.

Discussion

TRAP-1 was initially identified as a novel protein that binds to TNF receptor type 1 (Song et al., 1995). Although several studies suggest that TRAP-1 plays roles in cell cycle progression, cellular differentiation and apoptosis, this is the first report demonstrating a crucial function of TRAP-1 as a mediator of the prestarvation response (PSR) in Dictyostelium cells. The early aggregate formation, as noticed in TRAP1OE cells, is observed in a transformant overexpressing YakA, a protein kinase required for the initiation of development (Souza et al., 1998). The expression of YakA is upregulated by PSR, and the overexpression of YakA during growth induces an arrest of cell cycle and the formation of small cell clumps (Souza et al., 1998). In HK19 cells having an increased sensitivity to prestarvation factors, aggregate formation is induced by exogenously applied cAMP pulses even in the presence of food bacteria (Colosimo and Katz, 2001).

Clarke et al. (Clarke et al., 1987; Clarke et al., 1988) have identified a 65-70 kDa glycoprotein as one of the prestarvation factors (PSF-1). Most studies concerning PSF-1 have monitored the expression level of the gene discoidin I (Wetterauer et al., 1993; Zeng et al., 2000). Another prestarvation factor (PSF-2) has been found by Maeda and Iijima (Maeda and Iijima, 1992). We report here a novel pathway of PSR that is mediated by Dd-TRAP1 and differs from the previously reported pathway: (1) the novel PSR is not accompanied by increased expression of discoidin I; (2) PSF-3, which is a novel prestarvation factor for the activity of Dd-TRAP1 translocation, has distinct chemical properties from PSF-1 and PSF-2; (3) although PSR requires the activity of PKA (as realized by discoidin I expression), the PKA activation is not involved in the novel pathway. Originally dia1 and dia3 genes were reported to be specifically expressed in response to the initial differentiation of Ax-2 cells from the PS-point (Inazu et al., 1999; Hirose et al., 2000). However, in this study these genes were found as prestarvation genes as well as differentiation-associated genes. Furthermore, four PS-point-specific genes have also been regarded as prestarvation genes [dia1 and dia3, in this work; car1/quit1 (Rathi and Clarke, 1992); dia2 (S. Hirose, C. Pears, T. Mayanagi, A.A. and Y.M., unpublished). Huang and Pears have reported that the discoidin I gene is preferentially expressed in cells starved at the G2 phase near the PS-point in the cell cycle, which suggests that discoidin I is also a PS-point-specific gene (Huang and Pears, 1999). These facts suggest that the biological significance of PSR is to allow readily the cells to exist from the PS-point toward the differentiation phase in response to increased cell density. Actually, TRAP1-RNAi cells formed aggregates far apart from the feeding edge, where food bacteria are still present. In addition, HBW3 (a chemically induced mutant with an unknown molecular defect that expresses discoidin I and develops rapidly) or gdt1 cells (expresses discoidin I early and at high levels and prematurely enters the differentiation pathway), which show early PSR, form aggregates close to the feeding edge on the bacterial lawn (Primpke et al., 2001). Interestingly, Araki et al. have reported that cells starved at the mid-late G2 phase (just before the PS-point) differentiate into viable spores, whereas the cells starved at the late G2 phase (just after the PS-point) differentiate into non-viable stalk cells (Araki et al., 1997). Therefore, the earlier entry to differentiation phase by PSR may be strategically advantageous for survival of cells to the next generation.

Although Dd-TRAP1 induced the prestarvation response with enhanced expression of differentiation-associated genes, TRAP1OE cells exhibited the delayed differentiation after starvation (Fig. 6A). In TRAP1OE cells, the bulk of Dd-TRAP1 was translocated to mitochondria to induce the premature prestarvation response, but a significant amount of Dd-TRAP1 was still retained in the cell cortex for a long period of starvation (Fig. 7Da,b). This raised the possibility that Dd-TRAP1 located in the cortex might cause delayed differentiation. This idea is supported by the fact that introduction of the Dd-TRAP1 antibody into cells partially keeps Dd-TRAP1 in the cell cortex, resulting in delayed differentiation. The delayed differentiation of TRAP1OE cells was partially canceled by exogenously applied cAMP pulses, but the delayed expression of car1 was not recovered by the pulses (Fig. 7A,B). This suggests Dd-TRAP1 may negatively regulate the cAMP signaling pathway upstream of car1 expression.

We have attempted to disrupt the dd-trap1 gene by homologous recombination, but failed to obtain dd-trap1-null cells. In general, the members of the Hsp90 family are necessary for cell growth, and it is difficult to prepare their knockout strains. Consequently, we attempted to isolate the Dd-TRAP1 conditional knockdown transformants by a combination of RNAi and the tet-off system (TRAP1-RNAi cells). In TRAP1-RNAi cells growing in the absence of tetracycline, the expression level of Dd-TRAP1 protein was markedly decreased, resulting in a growth rate much slower than that of TRAP1-RNAi cells grown in the presence of tetracycline and that of parental MB35 cells. This indicates that Dd-TRAP1 is necessary for cell growth, as is the case for other members of the Hsp90 family.

In the Hsp90 family, TRAP-1 has a mitochondrial localization sequence at its N-terminus (Song et al., 1995; Felts et al., 2000) and is located predominantly in mitochondria in several cell lines (Felts et al., 2000; Cechetto and Gupta, 2000). However, TRAP1 has also been identified as an interacting partner for several extramitochondrial proteins (the type 1 TNF receptor, TNFR-1; the retinoblastoma protein, Rb; and EXT1, EXT2) (Song et al., 1995; Chen et al., 1996; Simmons et al., 2000). In mammalian cells, extramitochondrial localization of TRAP1 has been observed in secretary granules, nuclei, and at the cell surface (Cechetto and Gupta, 2000). Mitochondrial Hsp60 has been found at a discrete extramitochondrial sites, including the cell surface, cytoplasmic vesicles and granules, peroxisomes, and ER (Cechetto et al., 2000). In Dictyostelium cells, newly synthesized Dd-TRAP1 (80 kDa) with a mitochondrial localization sequence is translocated to the cell cortex after a brief and temporal stay in mitochondria (Morita et al., 2002). Coupled with an increase of cell density at the growth phase, Dd-TRAP1 is again and rapidly translocated from the cell cortex to mitochondria by PSF-3-mediated PSR. The molecular mechanism by which the processed Dd-TRAP1 (73 kDa) devoid of any mitochondrial localization sequences is able to come back to mitochondria is presently puzzling. Importantly, Ledgerwood et al. have reported that exogenously added TNF is found to be delivered to mitochondria (Ledgerwood et al., 1998). This raises the possibility that in cells activated by TNF, TRAP-1 might transfer TNF itself and other related proteins from the cell surface to mitochondria.

Acknowledgements

We thank Rob Kay and Jean-Paul Rieu for their critical reading and insightful comments. We are grateful to the Dictyostelium cDNA project in Japan for kind gift of the cDNA clone SLB414. This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid (14654170) from JSPS. This work was also funded by the Mitsubishi Foundation.

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