We have isolated and characterized temperature-sensitive endocytosis mutants in Dictyostelium discoideum. Dictyostelium is an attractive model for genetic studies of endocytosis because of its high rates of endocytosis, its reliance on endocytosis for nutrient uptake, and tractable molecular genetics. Endocytosis-defective mutants were isolated by a fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) as cells unable to take up a fluorescent marker. One temperature-sensitive mutant (indy1) was characterized in detail and found to exhibit a complete block in fluid phase endocytosis at the restrictive temperature, but normal rates of endocytosis at the permissive temperature. Likewise, a potential cell surface receptor that was rapidly internalized in wild-type cells and indy1 cells at the permissive temperature was poorly internalized in indy1 under restrictive conditions. Growth was also completely arrested at the restrictive temperature. The endocytosis block was rapidly induced upon shift to the restrictive temperature and reversed upon return to normal conditions. Inhibition of endocytosis was also specific, as other membrane-trafficking events such as phagocytosis, secretion of lysosomal enzymes, and contractile vacuole function were unaffected at the restrictive temperature. Because recycling and transport to late endocytic compartments were not affected, the site of the defect's action is probably at an early step in the endocytic pathway. Additionally, indy1 cells were unable to proceed through the normal development program at the restrictive temperature. Given the tight functional and growth phenotypes, the indy1 mutant provides an opportunity to isolate genes responsible for endocytosis in Dictyostelium by complementation cloning.

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