Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Lou W. Kim

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Lidia Kos

Third Advisor's Name

Ophelia Weeks

Fourth Advisor's Name

DeEtta Mills

Fifth Advisor's Name

Xiaotang Wang


Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3, Ras, phosphatidylinositol 3, 4, 5-triphosphate, phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase, chemotaxis, Dictyostelium discoideum

Date of Defense



Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 (GSK3), a serine/threonine kinase initially characterized in the context of glycogen metabolism, has been repeatedly realized as a multitasking protein that can regulate numerous cellular events in both metazoa and protozoa. I recently found GSK3 plays a role in regulating chemotaxis, a guided cell movement in response to an external chemical gradient, in one of the best studied model systems for chemotaxis - Dictyostelium discoideum.

It was initially found that comparing to wild type cells, gsk3- cells showed aberrant chemotaxis with a significant decrease in both speed and chemotactic indices. In Dictyostelium, phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-triphosphate (PIP3) signaling is one of the best characterized pathways that regulate chemotaxis. Molecular analysis uncovered that gsk3- cells suffer from high basal level of PIP3, the product of PI3K. Upon chemoattractant cAMP stimulation, wild type cells displayed a transient increase in the level of PIP3. In contrast, gsk3- cells exhibited neither significant increase nor adaptation. On the other hand, no aberrant dynamic of phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), which antagonizes PI3K function, was observed. Upon membrane localization of PI3K, PI3K become activated by Ras, which will in turn further facilitate membrane localization of PI3K in an F-Actin dependent manner. The gsk3- cells treated with F-Actin inhibitor Latrunculin-A showed no significant difference in the PIP3 level.

I also showed GSK3 affected the phosphorylation level of the localization domain of PI3K1 (PI3K1-LD). PI3K1-LD proteins from gsk3- cells displayed less phosphorylation on serine residues compared to that from wild type cells. When the potential GSK3 phosphorylation sites of PI3K1-LD were substituted with aspartic acids (Phosphomimetic substitution), its membrane localization was suppressed in gsk3- cells. When these serine residues of PI3K1-LD were substituted with alanine, aberrantly high level of membrane localization of the PI3K1-LD was monitored in wild type cells. Wild type, phosphomimetic, and alanine substitution of PI3K1-LD fused with GFP proteins also displayed identical localization behavior as suggested by the cell fraction studies. Lastly, I identified that all three potential GSK3 phosphorylation sites on PI3K1-LD could be phosphorylated in vitro by GSK3.





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