Extracellular Polyphosphate Inhibits Proliferation in an Autocrine Negative Feedback Loop in Dictyostelium discoideum. Academic Article uri icon


  • Polyphosphate is a polymer of phosphate residues linked by high energy phosphoanhydride bonds. Despite being highly conserved throughout nature, its function is poorly understood. Here we show that Dictyostelium cells accumulate extracellular polyphosphate, and this acts to inhibit proliferation at high cell densities. In shaking culture, extracellular polyphosphate concentrations increase as cell density increases, and if the concentration of polyphosphate observed at the stationary phase is added to cells at mid-log, proliferation is halted. Adding an exopolyphosphatase to cell cultures or stationary phase conditioned medium decreases polyphosphate levels and abrogates the anti-proliferative effect. The cells show saturable binding of polyphosphate, suggesting the presence of a cell surface polyphosphate receptor. Extracellular polyphosphate accumulation is potentiated by decreased nutrient levels, potentially as a means to anticipate starvation. Loss of the Dictyostelium polyphosphate kinase DdPpk1 causes intracellular polyphosphate levels to become undetectable and negatively affects fitness, cytokinesis, and germination. However, cells lacking DdPpk1 accumulate 50% normal levels of extracellular polyphosphate, suggesting an additional means of synthesis. We found that cells lacking inositol hexakisphosphate kinase, which is responsible for the synthesis of the inositol pyrophosphates IP7 and IP8, reach abnormally high cell densities and show decreased extracellular polyphosphate levels. Two different enzymes thus appear to mediate the synthesis of Dictyostelium extracellular polyphosphate, which is used as a signal in an autocrine negative feedback loop to regulate cell proliferation.

published proceedings

  • J Biol Chem

altmetric score

  • 1.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Suess, P. M., & Gomer, R. H.

citation count

  • 25

complete list of authors

  • Suess, Patrick M||Gomer, Richard H

publication date

  • January 2016