Using Live-Cell Imaging and Synthetic Biology to Probe Directed Migration in Dictyostelium

Jonathan Kuhn, Yiyan Lin, Peter N. Devreotes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


For decades, the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum has been an invaluable tool for dissecting the biology of eukaryotic cells. Its short growth cycle and genetic tractability make it ideal for a variety of biochemical, cell biological, and biophysical assays. Dictyostelium have been widely used as a model of eukaryotic cell motility because the signaling and mechanical networks which they use to steer and produce forward motion are highly conserved. Because these migration networks consist of hundreds of interconnected proteins, perturbing individual molecules can have subtle effects or alter cell morphology and signaling in major unpredictable ways. Therefore, to fully understand this network, we must be able to quantitatively assess the consequences of abrupt modifications. This ability will allow us better control cell migration, which is critical for development and disease, in vivo. Here, we review recent advances in imaging, synthetic biology, and computational analysis which enable researchers to tune the activity of individual molecules in single living cells and precisely measure the effects on cellular motility and signaling. We also provide practical advice and resources to assist in applying these approaches in Dictyostelium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number740205
JournalFrontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
StatePublished - Oct 5 2021


  • chemotaxis
  • imaging
  • migration
  • signaling
  • synthetic & systems biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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