Neurofibromin controls macropinocytosis and phagocytosis in Dictyostelium

Gareth Bloomfield, David Traynor, Sophia P. Sander, Douwe M Veltman, Justin A. Pachebat, Robert R Kay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Citations (SciVal)
155 Downloads (Pure)


Cells use phagocytosis and macropinocytosis to internalise bulk material, which in phagotrophic organisms supplies the nutrients necessary for growth. Wildtype Dictyostelium amoebae feed on bacteria, but for decades laboratory work has relied on axenic mutants that can also grow on liquid media. We used forward genetics to identify the causative gene underlying this phenotype. This gene encodes the RasGAP Neurofibromin (NF1). Loss of NF1 enables axenic growth by increasing fluid uptake. Mutants form outsized macropinosomes which are promoted by greater Ras and PI3K activity at sites of endocytosis. Relatedly, NF1 mutants can ingest larger-than-normal particles using phagocytosis. An NF1 reporter is recruited to nascent macropinosomes, suggesting that NF1 limits their size by locally inhibiting Ras signalling. Our results link NF1 with macropinocytosis and phagocytosis for the first time, and we propose that NF1 evolved in early phagotrophs to spatially modulate Ras activity, thereby constraining and shaping their feeding structures.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere04940
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Neurofibromin controls macropinocytosis and phagocytosis in Dictyostelium'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this