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Dormann, Dirk; Weijer, Cornelis J. and Siegert, Florian (1997): Twisted scroll waves organize Dictyostelium mucoroides slugs. In: Journal of cell science, Vol. 110, No. 16: pp. 1831-1837 [PDF, 527kB]


Cellular slime moulds (Dictyosteloids) are characterised by at least two different modes of slug migration. Most species, e.g. Dictyostelium mucoroides, produce a stalk continuously during slug migration, while a few species, e.g. Dictyostelium discoideum are characterised by stalk-less slug migration and only produce a stalk upon culmination. Experiments on D. discoideum and theoretical model calculations have shown that D. discoideum slugs are organized by a cAMP scroll wave in the tip which produces planar waves in the back. These waves guide cell movement in slugs: spiralling in the tip and forward movement parallel to the slug axis in the back. Simple changes in model parameters can lead to the formation of a twisted scroll wave which extends throughout the slug. In order to investigate whether such twisted scroll waves occur naturally we have analysed the movement of fluorescently labelled single cells in migrating D. mucoroides slugs. The results show that cells in the prespore zone of D. mucoroides slugs move in a spiral path. Although the velocity of single cells in D. mucoroides is faster than in D. discoideum, the net forward component of their movement is less due to their spiral trajectories. As a result D. mucoroides slugs move more slowly than D. discoideum slugs. The entire D. mucoroides slug also describes a spiralling path leaving corkscrew shaped stalks behind. Based on these observations we propose that cell movement in D. mucoroides slugs is controlled by a propagating twisted scroll wave of cAMP which extends throughout the length of the slug.

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