The Social Amoeba Polysphondylium pallidum Loses Encystation and Sporulation, but Can Still Erect Fruiting Bodies in the Absence of Cellulose

Qingyou Du, Pauline Schaap (Lead / Corresponding author)

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    Amoebas and other freely moving protists differentiate into walled cysts when exposed to stress. As cysts, amoeba pathogens are resistant to biocides, preventing treatment and eradication. Lack of gene modification procedures has left the mechanisms of encystation largely unexplored. Genetically tractable Dictyostelium discoideum amoebas require cellulose synthase for formation of multicellular fructifications with cellulose-rich stalk and spore cells. Amoebas of its distant relative Polysphondylium pallidum (Ppal), can additionally encyst individually in response to stress. Ppal has two cellulose synthase genes, DcsA and DcsB, which we deleted individually and in combination. Dcsa- mutants formed fruiting bodies with normal stalks, but their spore and cyst walls lacked cellulose, which obliterated stress-resistance of spores and rendered cysts entirely non-viable. A dcsa-/dcsb- mutant made no walled spores, stalk cells or cysts, although simple fruiting structures were formed with a droplet of amoeboid cells resting on an sheathed column of decaying cells. DcsB is expressed in prestalk and stalk cells, while DcsA is additionally expressed in spores and cysts. We conclude that cellulose is essential for encystation and that cellulose synthase may be a suitable target for drugs to prevent encystation and render amoeba pathogens susceptible to conventional antibiotics.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)569-579
    Number of pages11
    Issue number5
    Early online date14 Jul 2014
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014


    • Acanthamoeba keratitis
    • Amoebozoa
    • Cell wall biosynthesis
    • Cellulose synthase
    • Encystation
    • Polysphondylium pallidum


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