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Document Type




First Advisor's Name

Leung Kim

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Alejandro Barbieri

Third Advisor's Name

Fenfei Leng

Fourth Advisor's Name

Lidia Kos

Fifth Advisor's Name

John Makemson

Date of Defense



The serine/threonine kinase LKB1 is a regulator of critical events including development and stress responses in metazoans. The current study was undertaken to determine the function of LKB1 in Dictyostelium. During multicellular development and in response to stress insult, an apparent increase in the DdLKB1 kinase activity was observed. Depletion of DdLKB1 with a knockdown construct led to aberrant development; a severe reduction in prespore cell differentiation and a precocious induction of prestalk cells, which were reminiscent of cells lacking GSK3, a well known cell-fate switch. Furthermore, DdLKB1 depleted cells displayed lower GSK3 activity than wild type cells in response to cAMP stimulation during development and failed to activate AMPK, a well known LKB1 target in mammals, in response to cAMP and stress insults. These results suggest that DdLKB1 positively regulates both GSK3 and AMPK during Dictyostelium development, and DdLKB1 is necessary for AMPK activation during stress response regulation. No apparent GSK3 activation was observed in response to stress insults.

Spatial and temporal regulation of phosphatidylinositol-(3,4,5)-triphosphate (PIP3) along the membrane of polarized cells is important for efficient chemotaxis. A REMI screen for PIP3 suppressors in the absence of stimulation led to the identification of SodC as PIP3 regulator. Consistent with their higher PIP3 levels, sodC- cells showed defects in chemotaxis and exhibited higher intra-cellular superoxide levels. Protein localization studies along with observations from GPI specific PI-PLC treatment of wild-type cells suggested that SodC is a GPI anchored outer-membrane protein. SodC showed superoxide dismutase activity in vitro, and motility defects of sodC- cells can be rescued by expressing the intact SodC but not by the mutant SodC, which has point mutations that affect its dismutase function. Treatment of sodC- cells with LY294002, a pharmacological inhibitor of PI3K, partially rescued the polarization and chemoattractant sensing defects but not motility defects. Consistent with increased intracellular superoxide levels, sodC- cells also exhibited higher basal Ras activity, an upstream regulator of PI3K, which can be suppressed by a cell permeable superoxide scavenger, XTT, indicating that SodC is important in regulation of intracellular superoxide levels thereby regulating the Ras activity and PIP3 levels at the membrane.





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