Flavohemoglobins are being identified in an expanding number of prokaryotes and unicellular eukaryotes. These molecules consist of an N-terminal hemoglobin domain and a C-terminal oxidoreductase domain, and are considered to function in storage or as sensors for O2, and in defense against oxidative stress and/or NO. However, their physiological significance has not yet been determined. Here, we isolated and analyzed two flavohemoglobin genes of Dictyostelium discoideum, DdFHa and DdFHb, which lie close to each other in the genome. DdFHs were induced by submerged conditions, and enriched in the sexually mature cells of D. discoideum. Although they were not essential for growth or development under standard laboratory conditions, disruption of both genes caused an increase in number of large but uninuclear cells, and hypersensitivity to higher concentrations of glucose and to NO releasers. These results indicate that DdFHs are responsible for transducing NO signals to maintain normal cellular conditions against environmental stresses.
2000 by Japan Society for Cell Biology