Towards a molecular understanding of human diseases using Dictyostelium discoideum

Trends Mol Med. 2006 Sep;12(9):415-24. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2006.07.003. Epub 2006 Aug 4.


The social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum is increasingly being used as a simple model for the investigation of problems that are relevant to human health. This article focuses on several recent examples of Dictyostelium-based biomedical research, including the analysis of immune-cell disease and chemotaxis, centrosomal abnormalities and lissencephaly, bacterial intracellular pathogenesis, and mechanisms of neuroprotective and anti-cancer drug action. The combination of cellular, genetic and molecular biology techniques that are available in Dictyostelium often makes the analysis of these problems more amenable to study in this system than in mammalian cell culture. Findings that have been made in these areas using Dictyostelium have driven research in mammalian systems and have established Dictyostelium as a powerful model for human-disease analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Brain Diseases / metabolism
  • Centrosome / physiology
  • Chemotaxis
  • Dictyostelium* / chemistry
  • Dictyostelium* / genetics
  • Dictyostelium* / microbiology
  • Dictyostelium* / physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Humans
  • Legionella pneumophila / growth & development
  • Legionnaires' Disease / metabolism
  • Neutropenia / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / cytology
  • Protozoan Proteins / analysis
  • Protozoan Proteins / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Syndrome


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Protozoan Proteins