Evidence for the role of G-proteins in flow stimulation of dinoflagellate bioluminescence


Luminescent dinoflagellates respond to flow by the production of light. The primary mechanotransduction event is unknown, although downstream events include a calcium flux in the cytoplasm, a self-propagating action potential across the vacuole membrane, and a proton flux into the cytoplasm that activates the luminescent chemistry. Given the role of GTP-binding (G) proteins in the mechanotransduction of flow by nonmarine cells and the presence of G-proteins in dinoflagellates, it was hypothesized that flow-stimulated dinoflagellate bioluminescence involves mechanotransduction by G-proteins. In the present study, osmotic swelling of cells of the dinoflagellate Lingulodinium polyedrum was used as a drug delivery system to introduce GDPβS, an inhibitor of G-protein activation. Osmotically swollen cells produced higher levels of flow-stimulated bioluminescence at a lower threshold of shear stress, indicating they were more flow sensitive. GDPβS inhibited flow-stimulated bioluminescence in osmotically swollen cells and in cells that were restored to the isosmotic condition following hypoosmotic treatment with GDPβS. These results provide evidence that G-proteins are involved in the mechanotransduction of flow in dinoflagellates and suggest that G-protein involvement in mechanotransduction may be a fundamental evolutionary adaptation.

American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology 292(5), pp. R2020–R2027, https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpregu.00649.2006