Nuclear plasmids in the Dictyostelium slime molds



Cellular slime molds are one of only three types of eukaryotes known to contain circular nuclear plasmids. Unlike the 2-μm circle in Saccharomyces, different strains of Dictyostelium can carry different, nonhomologous plasmids. Covalently closed, circular DNA plasmids have been identified in D. discoideum, D. mucoroides, D. giganteum, and D. purpureum. These plasmids range in size from 1.3–27 kb and in copy number from 50-300 molecules per cell. Plasmids have been identified in approximately one-fifth of all isolates examined. The organization of their DNA in nucleosomes establishes their presence in the nucleus. We have successfully cotransformed endogenous Dictyostelium plasmids into D. discoideum using the G418 resistance shuttle vector B10S. Transformants carrying D. discoideum plasmids are recovered at much higher frequency than those carrying plasmids from the other Dictyostelium species. We have constructed recombinant plasmids based on the D. discoideum plasmid Ddp2 and the G418 resistance gene. With these extrachromosomal vectors, transformed cells are recovered at frequencies of up to 10−4 per input cell, the vectors are stably maintained at high copy number in the absence of selection, and the vectors can be used to introduce foreign DNA sequences into D. discoideum cells.