During the early stages of its developmental program, Dictyostelium discoideum expresses cell surface cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cyclic AMP) receptors. It has been suggested that these receptors coordinate the aggregation of individual cells into a multicellular organism and regulate the expression of a large number of developmentally regulated genes. The complementary DNA (cDNA) for the cyclic AMP receptor has now been cloned from λgt-11 libraries by screening with specific antiserum. The 2-kilobase messenger RNA (mRNA) that encodes the receptor is undetectable in growing cells, rises to a maximum at 3 to 4 hours of development, and then declines. In vitro transcribed complementary RNA, when hybridized to cellular mRNA, specifically arrests in vitro translation of the receptor polypeptide. When the cDNA is expressed in Dictyostelium cells, the undifferentiated cells specifically bind cyclic AMP. Cell lines transformed with a vector that expresses complementary mRNA (antisense) do not express the cyclic AMP receptor protein. These cells fail to enter the aggregation stage of development during starvation, whereas control and wild-type cells aggregate and complete the developmental program within 24 hours. The phenotype of the antisense transformants suggests that the cyclic AMP receptor is essential for development. The deduced amino acid sequence of the receptor reveals a high percentage of hydrophobic residues grouped in seven domains, similar to the rhodopsins and other receptors believed to interact with G proteins. It shares amino acid sequence identity and is immunologically cross-reactive with bovine rhodopsin. A model is proposed in which the cyclic AMP receptor crosses the bilayer seven times with a serine-rich cytoplasmic carboxyl terminus, the proposed site of ligand-induced receptor phosphorylation.
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