About this Research Topic
For almost a century the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum has served as an inexpensive and high-throughput model system for studying a variety of fundamental cellular processes including cell movement, chemotaxis, differentiation, morphogenesis, and autophagy. This eukaryotic microbe, which is part of the National Institutes of Health model organism initiative for biomedical and human disease research, is genetically tractable and undergoes a 24-hour life cycle composed of both single cell and multicellular phases.
The Dictyostelium genome encodes many homologs of genes associated with human disease and therefore serves as a unique and powerful model system for studying a variety of human diseases. Dictyostelium development shares many common events with metazoan development but occurs in a much shorter time frame (24 hours), which allows for the rapid detection of developmental phenotypes. Since the genome is haploid, researchers can introduce one or multiple gene disruptions with relative ease (e.g., REMI mutagenesis, homologous recombination, CRISPR/Cas9-mediated targeting) and gene function can be studied in a true multicellular organism with measurable phenotypic outcomes. Use of insertional mutant libraries can also facilitate pharmacogenetics screens to provide improved understanding of the function of bioactive compounds at a cellular level. Finally, the signaling pathways that regulate the behavior of Dictyostelium cells are remarkably similar to those observed in mammalian cells, which has allowed findings from Dictyostelium to be successfully translated to mammalian systems. Thus, Dictyostelium has, and will continue to offer, excellent opportunities to advance biomedical research.
In this Research Topic, we aim to highlight new exciting research in the field that showcases the utility of using Dictyostelium as a tractable cell, molecular and developmental model system in biomedical research. Topics will include, but not be limited to, the use of Dictyostelium to study cancer, neurological diseases, and other pathologies, as well as modelling conserved biological processes in eukaryotes (e.g., cell signaling, chemotaxis, adhesion, development). Reviews will thus relate to both translational biomedical research and studies focused on fundamental aspects of biology underlying principles of cell and developmental biology in health and disease research.
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.