Under-agarose folate chemotaxis of Dictyostelium discoideum amoebae in permissive and mechanically inhibited conditions

Biotechniques. 2001 Nov;31(5):1140-2, 1144, 1146-9. doi: 10.2144/01315rr03.


Under-agarose chemotaxis has been used previously to assess the ability of neutrophils to respond to gradients of chemoattractant. We have adapted this assay to the chemotactic movement of Dictyostelium amoebae in response to folic acid. Troughs are used instead of wells to increase the area along which the cells can be visualized and to create a uniform front of moving cells. Imaging the transition zone where the cells first encounter the agarose, we find that the cells move perpendicular to the gradient and periodically manage to squeeze under the agarose and move up the gradient. As cells exit the troughs, their cross-sectional area increases as the cells become flattened. Three-dimensional reconstruction of confocal optical sections through GFP-labeled cells demonstrates that the increase in cross-sectional area is due to the flattening of the cells. Since the cells locally deform the agarose and become deformed by it, the concentration of the agarose, and therefore its stiffness, should affect the ability of the cells to migrate. Consistent with this hypothesis, cells in 0.5% agarose move faster and are less flat than cells under 2% agarose. Cells do not exit the troughs and move under 3% agarose at all. Therefore, this assay can be used to compare and quantify the ability of different cell types or mutant cell lines to move in a restrictive environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Chemotaxis*
  • Dictyostelium / physiology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Folic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Sepharose / pharmacology*


  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Sepharose
  • Folic Acid