We examined a possible role for the plasma membrane potential in signal transduction during cyclic AMP-induced chemotaxis in the cellular slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum. Chemotaxis, cyclic GMP and cyclic AMP responses in cells with a depolarized membrane potential were measured. Cells can be completely depolarized by two different methods: (1) by treatment with azide; this probably causes inhibition of the electrogenic proton pump, which was shown earlier to regulate plasma membrane potential in D. discoideum. (2) By electroporation, which causes the formation of large non-ion-selective pores in the plasma membrane. It was found that in depolarized cells the cyclic AMP-mediated cyclic AMP accumulation was inhibited. In contrast, chemotaxis to a cyclic AMP source was normal; the cyclic AMP-induced accumulation of cyclic GMP, which is known to mediate the chemotactic response, was also not affected. We conclude that membrane-potential-regulated processes, such as voltage-gated ion channels, do not play an essential role in chemotaxis in D. discoideum.

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