The Role of Inducible Hsp70, and Other Heat Shock Proteins, in Adaptive Complex of Cold Tolerance of the Fruit Fly (Drosophila melanogaster)

Štětina, Tomáš; Koštál, Vladimír; Korbelová, Jaroslava
June 2015
PLoS ONE;Jun2015, Vol. 10 Issue 6, p1
Academic Journal
Background: The ubiquitous occurrence of inducible Heat Shock Proteins (Hsps) up-regulation in response to cold-acclimation and/or to cold shock, including massive increase of Hsp70 mRNA levels, often led to hasty interpretations of its role in the repair of cold injury expressed as protein denaturation or misfolding. So far, direct functional analyses in Drosophila melanogaster and other insects brought either limited or no support for such interpretations. In this paper, we analyze the cold tolerance and the expression levels of 24 different mRNA transcripts of the Hsps complex and related genes in response to cold in two strains of D. melanogaster: the wild-type and the Hsp70- null mutant lacking all six copies of Hsp70 gene. Principal Findings: We found that larvae of both strains show similar patterns of Hsps complex gene expression in response to long-term cold-acclimation and during recovery from chronic cold exposures or acute cold shocks. No transcriptional compensation for missing Hsp70 gene was seen in Hsp70- strain. The cold-induced Hsps gene expression is most probably regulated by alternative splice variants C and D of the Heat Shock Factor. The cold tolerance in Hsp70- null mutants was clearly impaired only when the larvae were exposed to severe acute cold shock. No differences in mortality were found between two strains when the larvae were exposed to relatively mild doses of cold, either chronic exposures to 0°C or acute cold shocks at temperatures down to -4°C. Conclusions: The up-regulated expression of a complex of inducible Hsps genes, and Hsp70 mRNA in particular, is tightly associated with cold-acclimation and cold exposure in D. melanogaster. Genetic elimination of Hsp70 up-regulation response has no effect on survival of chronic exposures to 0°C or mild acute cold shocks, while it negatively affects survival after severe acute cold shocks at temperaures below -8°C.


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