The polymorphic proteins TgrB1 and TgrC1 function as a ligand-receptor pair in Dictyostelium allorecognition

J Cell Sci. 2017 Dec 1;130(23):4002-4012. doi: 10.1242/jcs.208975. Epub 2017 Oct 16.


Allorecognition is a key factor in Dictyostelium development and sociality. It is mediated by two polymorphic transmembrane proteins, TgrB1 and TgrC1, which contain extracellular immunoglobulin domains. TgrB1 and TgrC1 are necessary and sufficient for allorecognition, and they carry out separate albeit overlapping functions in development, but their mechanism of action is unknown. Here, we show that TgrB1 acts as a receptor with TgrC1 as its ligand in cooperative aggregation and differentiation. The proteins bind each other in a sequence-specific manner; TgrB1 exhibits a cell-autonomous function and TgrC1 acts non-cell-autonomously. The TgrB1 cytoplasmic tail is essential for its function and it becomes phosphorylated upon association with TgrC1. Dominant mutations in TgrB1 activate the receptor function and confer partial ligand independence. These roles in development and sociality suggest that allorecognition is crucial in the integration of individual cells into a coherent organism.

Keywords: Allorecognition; Cooperative differentiation; Dictyostelium; Receptor-ligand interaction; TgrB1; TgrC1.

MeSH terms

  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Dictyostelium / metabolism*
  • Ligands*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Protein Transport / physiology
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Ligands
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Cyclic AMP