We have identified a cellular efflux pump, RhT, with the properties of an MDR transporter-a type of ATP-binding cassette transporter whose substrates include small hydrophobic molecules. RhT transports rhodamine 123 (Rh123) and is inhibited by low temperature, energy poisons, and several MDR transport inhibitors, such as verapamil. All vegetative cells have RhT activity, but during development prestalk cells lose RhT activity while prespore cells retain it. We also identified several RhT inhibitors. The most effective inhibitor is the stalk cell-inducing chlorinated alkyl phenone, DIF-1. The RhT inhibitors disrupted development, to varying degrees, and induced stalk cell formation in submerged culture. The inhibitors displayed the same rank order of pharmacological efficacy for stalk cell induction as they did for Rh123 transport inhibition. We also found that cerulenin, a specific inhibitor of DIF-1 biosynthesis (R. R. Kay, 1998, J. Biol. Chem. 273, 2669-2675), abolished the induction of stalk cells by each of the RhT inhibitors, and this effect could be reversed by DIF-1. Thus, DIF-1 synthesis appears to be required for the induction of stalk cells by the RhT inhibitors. Since DIF-1 is the most potent inhibitor of RhT activity, and thus a likely transport substrate itself, we propose that RhT inhibitors induce stalk cell differentiation by blocking DIF-1 export, causing DIF-1 to build up within cells. Our results provide evidence for a prespore-specific efflux pump that regulates cell fate determination, perhaps by regulating the cellular concentration of DIF-1.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.