TUBULAR-VESICULAR TRANSFORMATION IN THE CONTRACTILE VACUOLE SYSTEM OF DICTYOSTELIUM

Authors


To whom correspondence should be addressed: E-mail: gerisch@biochem.mpg.de

Abstract

The contractile vacuole complex of Dictyostelium is the paradigm of a membrane system that undergoes tubular-vesicular transitions during its regular cycle of activities. This system acts as an osmoregulatory organelle in freshwater amoebae and protozoa. It collects fluid in a network of tubules and cisternae, and pumps it out of the cell through transient pores in the plasma membrane. Tubules and vacuoles are interconvertible. The tubular channels are associated with the cortical actin network and are capable of moving and fusing. The contractile vacuole complex is separate from vesicles of the endosomal pathway and preserves its identity in a dispersed state during cell division. We outline techniques to visualize the contractile vacuole system by electron and light microscopy. Emphasis is placed on GFP-fusion proteins that allow visualization of the dynamics of the contractile vacuole network in living cells. Proteins that control activities of this specialized organelle inDictyostelium have been conserved during evolution and also regulate membrane trafficking in man.

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