The plasmodium of Physarum polycephalum grows without cytokinesis and shows an active cytoplasmic streaming under wet and nutritious conditions. It can undergo reversible differentiation into several types of dormancy to survive in adverse environments. Temperature change or osmotic stress leads to cytoplasmic division of the plasmodium into cells containing one or more nuclei: these form a macrocyst, the spherule. Desiccation also induces cell division of the plasmodium followed by formation of a sclerotium, a dormant body resistant to dry stress. More than half of the actin in a sclerotium is phosphorylated at a single site, threonine 203, resulting in loss of its ability to polymerize into actin filaments. In the present study, actin phosphorylation was found in the sclerotium but not in either the plasmodium or in the spherule. This result suggests that phosphorylation of sclerotium actin may be related to the mechanism associated with desiccation resistance rather than morphological changes through cell compartmentalization in the macrocyst formation. Moreover, dephosphorylation of the phosphorylated form of sclerotium actin began within 5 min after addition of water. Dephosphorylation was not affected by sucrose and sorbitol sugars, but was inhibited by ammonium bicarbonate, ammonium phosphate, sodium phosphate, NaCl, and KCl in a dose-dependent manner. On the other hand, in germination of the sclerotium there was measurable sensitivity to both carbohydrates and salts. Actin dephosphorylation seems to be one of the important processes in the early phase of sclerotium germination.
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Vol. 49 • No. 2