Assessment of Dictyostelium discoideum response to acute mechanical stimulation

Yulia Artemenko, Peter N. Devreotes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chemotaxis, or migration up a gradient of a chemoattractant, is the best understood mode of directed migration. Studies using social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum revealed that a complex signal transduction network of parallel pathways amplifies the response to chemoattractants, and leads to biased actin polymerization and protrusion of a pseudopod in the direction of a gradient. In contrast, molecular mechanisms driving other types of directed migration, for example, due to exposure to shear flow or electric fields, are not known. Many regulators of chemotaxis exhibit localization at the leading or lagging edge of a migrating cell, as well as show transient changes in localization or activation following global stimulation with a chemoattractant. To understand the molecular mechanisms of other types of directed migration we developed a method that allows examination of cellular response to acute mechanical stimulation based on brief (2 - 5 s) exposure to shear flow. This stimulation can be delivered in a channel while imaging cells expressing fluorescently-labeled biosensors to examine individual cell behavior. Additionally, cell population can be stimulated in a plate, lysed, and immunoblotted using antibodies that recognize active versions of proteins of interest. By combining both assays, one can examine a wide array of molecules activated by changes in subcellular localization and/or phosphorylation. Using this method we determined that acute mechanical stimulation triggers activation of the chemotactic signal transduction and actin cytoskeleton networks. The ability to examine cellular responses to acute mechanical stimulation is important for understanding the initiating events necessary for shear flow-induced motility. This approach also provides a tool for studying the chemotactic signal transduction network without the confounding influence of the chemoattractant receptor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere56411
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number129
StatePublished - Nov 9 2017


  • Acute stimulation
  • Biosensor localization
  • Cellular biology
  • Chemotaxis
  • Directed migration
  • Issue 129
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Rheotaxis
  • Shear flow-induced migration
  • Shear stress
  • Signal transduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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