Cell sorting by differential cell adhesion and movement is a fundamental process in multicellular morphogenesis. We have identified a Dictyostelium discoideum gene encoding a novel protein, LrrA, which composes almost entirely leucine-rich repeats (LRRs) including a putative leucine zipper motif. Transcription of lrrA appeared to be developmentally regulated with robust expression during vegetative growth and early development. lrrA null cells generated by homologous recombination aggregated to form loose mounds, but subsequent morphogenesis was blocked without formation of the apical tip. The cells adhered poorly to a substratum and did not form tight cell-cell agglomerates in suspension; in addition, they were unable to polarize and exhibit chemotactic movement in the submerged aggregation and Dunn chamber chemotaxis assays. Fluorescence-conjugated phalloidin staining revealed that both vegetative and aggregation competent lrrA- cells contained numerous F-actin-enriched microspikes around the periphery of cells. Quantitative analysis of the fluorescence-stained F-actin showed that lrrA - cells exhibited a dramatically increase in F-actin as compared to the wild-type cells. When developed together with wild-type cells, lrrA - cells were unable to move to the apical tip and sorted preferentially to the rear and lower cup regions. These results indicate that LrrA involves in cytoskeleton remodeling, which is needed for normal chemotactic aggregation and efficient cell sorting during multicellular morphogenesis, particularly in the formation of apical tip.
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