One of the common functional features among G-protein coupled receptors is the occurrence of multiple subtypes involved in similar signal transduction events. The cAMP chemoattractant receptor family of Dictyostelium discoideum is composed of four receptors (cAR1-cAR4), which are expressed sequentially throughout the developmental transition from a unicellular to a multicellular organism. The receptors differ in affinity for cAMP and in the sequences of their C-terminal domains. In this study, we constitutively expressed cAR1, cAR2, and cAR3 as well as a series of chimeric and mutant receptors and assessed the capacity of each to mediate chemotaxis, activation of adenylyl cyclase and actin polymerization, and rescue the developmental defect of car1-/car3- cells. We found that various receptors and mutants sense different concentration ranges of cAMP but all can mediate identical responses during the aggregation stage of development. The responses displayed very similar kinetics, suggesting no major differences in regulatory properties attributable to the C-terminal domains. We speculate that switching of receptor subtypes during development enables the organism to respond to the changing concentrations of the chemoattractant and thereby program morphogenesis appropriately.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press.