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Heat shock (HS) genes, or stress genes, code for a number of proteins that collectively form the most ancient and universal stress defense system. The system determines the cell capability of adaptation to various adverse factors and performs a variety of auxiliary functions in normal physiological conditions. Common stress factors, such as higher temperatures, hypoxia, heavy metals, and others, suppress transcription and translation for the majority of genes, while HS genes are upregulated. Transcription of HS genes is controlled by transcription factors of the HS factor (HSF) family. Certain HSFs are activated on exposure to higher temperatures or other adverse factors to ensure stress-induced HS gene expression, while other HSFs are specifically activated at particular developmental stages. The regulation of the main mammalian stress-inducible factor HSF1 and Drosophila melanogaster HSF includes many components, such as a variety of early warning signals indicative of abnormal cell activity (e.g., increases in intracellular ceramide, cytosolic calcium ions, or partly denatured proteins); protein kinases, which phosphorylate HSFs at various Ser residues; acetyltransferases; and regulatory proteins, such as SUMO and HSBP1. Transcription factors other than HSFs are also involved in activating HS gene transcription; the set includes D. melanogaster GAF, mammalian Sp1 and NF-Y, and other factors. Transcription of several stress genes coding for molecular chaperones of the glucose-regulated protein (GRP) family is predominantly regulated by another stress-detecting system, which is known as the unfolded protein response (UPR) system and is activated in response to massive protein misfolding in the endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondrial matrix. A translational fine tuning of HS protein expression occurs via changing the phosphorylation status of several proteins involved in translation initiation. In addition, specific signal sequences in the 5'-UTRs of some HS protein mRNAs ensure their preferential translation in stress.


D G Garbuz. Regulation of heat shock gene expression in response to stress]. Molekuliarnaia biologiia. 2017 May 01;51(3):400-417

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PMID: 28707656

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