Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Dr. Lou W. Kim

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Lidia Kos

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Alejandro Barbieri

Fourth Advisor's Name

Dr. Ophelia Weeks

Fifth Advisor's Name

Dr. Xiaotang Wang


Motility, Dictyostelium, PKBR1, B56, PP2A, Adaptation, MPL1, ERK2

Date of Defense



Dictyostelium discoideum is a simple model widely used to study many cellular functions, including differentiation, gene regulation, cellular trafficking and directional migration. Adaptation mechanisms are essential in the regulation of these cellular processes. The misregulation of adaptation components often results in persistent activation of signaling pathways and aberrant cellular responses. Studying adaptation mechanisms regulating cellular migration will be crucial in the treatment of many pathological conditions in which motility plays a central role, such as tumor metastasis and acute inflammation. I will describe two adaptation mechanisms regulating directional migration in Dictyostelium cells.

The Extracellular signal Regulated Kinase 2 (ERK2) plays an essential role in Dictyostelium cellular migration. ERK2 stimulates intracellular cAMP accumulation in chemotaxing cells. Aberrant ERK2 regulation results in aberrant cAMP levels and defective directional migration. The MAP Phosphatase with Leucine-rich repeats (MPL1) is crucial for ERK2 adaptation. Cells lacking, MPL1 (mpl1- cells) displayed higher pre-stimulus and persistent post-stimulus ERK2 phosphorylation, defective cAMP production and reduced cellular migration. Reintroduction of a full length Mpl1 into mpl1- cells restored aggregation, ERK2 regulation, random and directional motility, and cAMP production similar to wild type cells (Wt). These results suggest Mpl1 is essential for proper regulation of ERK2 phosphorylation and optimal motility in Dictyostelium cells.

Cellular polarization in Dictyostelium cells in part is regulated by the activation of the AGC-related kinase Protein Kinase Related B1 (PKBR1). The PP2A regulatory subunit, B56, and the Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 (GSK3) are necessary for PKBR1 adaptation in Dictyostelium cells. Cells lacking B56, psrA-cells, exhibited high basal and post-stimulus persistent phosphorylation of PKBR1, increased phosphorylation of PKBR1 substrates, and aberrant motility. PKBR1 adaptation is also regulated by the GSK3. When the levels of active GSK3 are reduced in Wt and psrA- cells, high basal levels of phosphorylated PKBR1 were observed, in a Ras dependent, but B56 independent mechanism. Altogether, PKBR1 adaptation is regulated by at least two independent mechanisms: one by GSK3 and another by PP2A/B56.



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