Conditions that alter intracellular cAMP levels affect expression of the cAMP phosphodiesterase gene in Dictyostelium.
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We examined expression of the Dictyostelium cAMP phosphodiesterase (PDE) gene under conditions that alter intracellular cAMP levels during in vitro differentiation of wild-type strain V12M2 and a sporogenous derivative, HB200. In control cultures, cellular PDE activity peaked at 6 hr and declined by 8 hr, while secreted PDE activity continued to increase through 8 hr. Lowering intracellular cAMP levels with caffeine or progesterone increased cellular and secreted PDE activities 2-fold, increased stalk cell differentiation, and inhibited spore differentiation. In contrast, exposure to 8-bromoadenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (8-Br-cAMP; a membrane-permeable cAMP analog) or ammonia (which promotes intracellular cAMP accumulation in V12M2 and HB200 cells) lowered PDE activities by as much as 45%, decreased stalk cell differentiation, and increased spore differentiation. Simultaneous exposure to 8-Br-cAMP and caffeine gave intermediate PDE activities as would be expected if 8-Br-cAMP entered the cell and bypassed the caffeine-mediated block to adenylate cyclase activation. In all cases, we observed commensurate changes in developmental PDE transcript levels. The developmental time course of expression was not significantly altered by these treatments. These results suggest that the magnitude of PDE gene expression is negatively regulated by intracellular cAMP levels and provide evidence for one of the earliest changes in gene expression that is consistent with cell-type specificity. These results are discussed in terms of a bistable switch employing intracellular cAMP as a regulator of cell fate.