Endosomes are acidified by association with discrete proton-pumping vacuoles in Dictyostelium

J Biol Chem. 1991 Mar 25;266(9):5514-20.


The endocytic compartment in the amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum was labeled by feeding fluorescein 5-isothiocyanate-dextran. In homogenates containing 2 mM Mg2+, the compartments so labeled copurified with all of the vacuolar H(+)-ATPase activity in a dense peak. The fluorescence properties of the probe showed that these dense vacuoles were inherently acidic. Furthermore, after purging their residual acidity, they could be re-acidified by the addition of ATP. These data suggest that the H(+)-ATPase was structurally and functionally coupled to the endocytic space. The association of the H(+)-ATPase and endocytic compartment was reversed by the removal of either Mg2+ or traces of the cytosol. Endocytic vacuoles prepared in this way were deficient in vacuolar H(+)-ATPase activity and were not acidified upon addition of MgATP. The missing proton pumps were recovered in large buoyant vacuoles that lacked ingested fluorescein 5-isothiocyanate-dextran, acid hydrolases, and residual acidity. These vacuoles were also less susceptible than endosomes to disruption by digitonin, suggesting that their bilayers were low in sterols. These results indicate that the endocytic circuit in Dictyostelium is acidified by a discrete and separable proton-pumping organelle.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport / drug effects
  • Dextrans
  • Dictyostelium / physiology*
  • Dictyostelium / ultrastructure
  • Digitonin / pharmacology
  • Electrochemistry
  • Endocytosis
  • Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate* / analogs & derivatives*
  • Fluoresceins
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases / metabolism
  • Protons*
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Vacuoles / drug effects
  • Vacuoles / enzymology
  • Vacuoles / physiology*


  • Dextrans
  • Fluoresceins
  • Protons
  • fluorescein isothiocyanate dextran
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases
  • Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate
  • Digitonin