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Transcriptional activation of heat-shock genes in eukaryotes

Transcriptional activation of heat-shock genes in eukaryotes

Biochemistry and Cell Biology 66(6): 584-593

ISSN/ISBN: 0829-8211

PMID: 3048332

DOI: 10.1139/o88-069

Prokaryotes and eukaryotes respond to thermal or various chemical stresses by the rapid induction of a group of genes collectively referred to as the heat shock genes. In eucaryotes, the expression of these genes is primarily regulated at the transcriptional level. The early observations that transfected heat shock genes were inducible in heterologous systems suggested the existence of common regulatory elements in these ubiquitous genes. Sequence analysis of cloned Drosophila heat shock genes revealed a conserved 14 base pair (bp) inverted repeat, which is essential for heat induction. This regulatory sequence, referred to as the heat shock element (HSE), is found in multiple imperfect copies upstream of the TATA box of all heat shock genes. While studies in heterologous systems indicated that a single copy of HSE was sufficient for inducibility, further analysis in homologous assays suggests that multiple HSE can act in a cooperative way and that the efficiency of transcriptional activation is related, within limits, to the number of HSE. Comparative analysis of heat shock genes reveals that HSE can be positioned at different distances from the TATA box in either orientation, a behavior reminiscent of enhancer elements. However, the presence of HSE does not necessarily confer heat inducibility, as shown by their presence in the constitutively expressed but non-heat-inducible homologous cognate genes. Footprinting and nuclease mapping have been used to show that a protein factor (HSTF: heat shock transcription factor) binds to the HSE element, activating heat shock gene transcription in a dose-dependent manner. The recent progress in the isolation and characterization of HSTF in Drosophila, yeast, and human cells is reviewed. Finally, different models suggested to account for the positive regulation of heat shock genes by the HSTF are presented.

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Accession: 018189548

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