Differential cell movement is an important mechanism in the development and morphogenesis of many organisms. In many cases there are indications that chemotaxis is a key mechanism controlling differential cell movement. This can be particularly well studied in the starvation-induced multicellular development of the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. Upon starvation, up to 10(5) individual amoebae aggregate to form a fruiting body The cells aggregate by chemotaxis in response to propagating waves of cAMP, initiated by an aggregation centre. During their chemotactic aggregation the cells start to differentiate into prestalk and prespore cells, precursors to the stalk and spores that form the fruiting body. These cells enter the aggregate in a random order but then sort out to form a simple axial pattern in the slug. Our experiments strongly suggest that the multicellular aggregates (mounds) and slugs are also organized by propagating cAMP waves and, furthermore, that cell-type-specific differences in signalling and chemotaxis result in cell sorting, slug formation and movement.
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