|Abstract:The prestalk zone of slugs of Dictyostelium discoideum has been shown to contain three subregions in which the extracellular matrix genes ecmA and ecmB are differentially expressed; it is generally thought that these regions are defined by extracellular signals. Using beta-galactosidase as a cell marker, we have shown that cells can sort specifically to all three regions. Cells from the posterior-prestalk zone ("prestalk 0 zone") which are injected into the slug tip move within 60 min back to their position of origin. When cells from the anterior prestalk zone (presumably containing a mixture of ecmA and ecmB expressers) are transplanted to the posterior prestalk zone, they move to the tip ("prestalk A zone") within 1 h and about 30 min subsequently are often found in a cone-shaped region within the tip ("prestalk B zone"). Cells transplanted to their own positions do not move significantly within this period. Since the subregions of the prestalk zone can be defined by sorting, it is possible that they are normally formed in this way rather than by position-dependent signals. Cells transplanted without a change in anterior-posterior position and cells which have sorted back to their positions of origin eventually spread out throughout the prestalk zone. This suggests that sorting preferences of cells are respecified. When posterior prestalk cells are transplanted to the prespore zone, respecification of sorting preference is suspended until the cells return to the prestalk zone and anterior-prestalk cells acquire posterior-prestalk sorting preferences.