After a natural disaster like a big fire, countless helpers work together to get rid of debris, to build temporary shelters and to provide food for people in need. When a cell is exposed to dangerous environmental conditions such as high temperature, a quite similar process is initiated: the cellular stress response, also called heat shock response. Scientists of the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Munich-Martinsried could uncover an entire network of cellular helpers and thus identify new regulatory mechanisms of this stress response. “Our results could also be of use for investigating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s,” hopes PhD student Christian Loew
When an organism is exposed to life-threatening conditions, it sounds the alarm and a cellular emergency program, the heat shock response, is initiated. However, the name “heat shock response” is misleading.
When a cell is exposed to life-threatening conditions, the protein HSF1 (marked in green) initiates an emergency program to prevent permanent damage to the cell.
Picture: Christian Loew / Copyright: MPI of Biochemistry
In the beginning of the 1960s, this form of stress response was first observed. Scientists exposed fruit flies to high temperatures and discovered a complex emergency program designated to save single cells and thus the organism itself. Today researchers know that this program is also triggered by other dangers such as radiation or toxic substances. The terminology, however, is still in use.
During the heat shock response, different stress proteins are synthesized. Their task is to prevent permanent damage to the organism. “You can compare it to an emergency alert. In order to restore the original status as soon as possible, problems and damages are identified, counter-measures initiated and coordinated”, Loew describes the processes in the cell.
In a comprehensive analysis, the Max Planck scientists have investigated 15 000 proteins and their role in the heat shock response. They could show that the helpers are organized in different groups according to their tasks and disaster zones. One group of proteins, for instance, checks whether the DNA in the nucleus is still intact.
The protein HSF1 (short for heat shock transcription factor) is responsible for the central coordination of the disaster management. In the moment it is activated, it calls a variety of other proteins into action to eliminate the damages. The scientists could demonstrate two ways in which this control center in itself is regulated. When the crisis is overcome, HSF1 is degraded by the cell’s waste disposal system, the proteasome. As long as there is still damage to get rid of, another protein (Acetyltransferase EP300) prevents the degradation.
The understanding of the heat shock response could also be of interest for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, so the scientists in Martinsried hope. Typical for these diseases are massive cell damages and, thus, the excessive demand on the cellular quality control. Nerve cells die and cannot fulfill their tasks in the brain anymore. “A targeted activation of the heat shock response could reduce the disease specific cell damages,” explains Loew.
S. Raychaudhuri, C. Loew, R. Körner, S. Pinkert, M. Theis, M. Hayer-Hartl, F. Buchholz and F. U. Hartl: Interplay of Acetyltransferase EP300 and the Proteasome System in Regulating Heat Shock Transcription Factor 1. Cell, February 27, 2014.
Prof. Dr. F.-Ulrich Hartl
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Am Klopferspitz 18
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Am Klopferspitz 18
Tel. +49 89 8578-2824
Anja Konschak | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Rice study decodes genetic circuitry for bacterial spore formation
24.05.2016 | Rice University
How Neural Circuits Implement Natural Vision
24.05.2016 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
In the Beyond EUV project, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen and for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena are developing key technologies for the manufacture of a new generation of microchips using EUV radiation at a wavelength of 6.7 nm. The resulting structures are barely thicker than single atoms, and they make it possible to produce extremely integrated circuits for such items as wearables or mind-controlled prosthetic limbs.
In 1965 Gordon Moore formulated the law that came to be named after him, which states that the complexity of integrated circuits doubles every one to two...
Characterization of high-quality material reveals important details relevant to next generation nanoelectronic devices
Quantum mechanics is the field of physics governing the behavior of things on atomic scales, where things work very differently from our everyday world.
When current comes in discrete packages: Viennese scientists unravel the quantum properties of the carbon material graphene
In 2010 the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded for the discovery of the exceptional material graphene, which consists of a single layer of carbon atoms...
The trend-forward world of display technology relies on innovative materials and novel approaches to steadily advance the visual experience, for example through higher pixel densities, better contrast, larger formats or user-friendler design. Fraunhofer ISC’s newly developed materials for optics and electronics now broaden the application potential of next generation displays. Learn about lower cost-effective wet-chemical printing procedures and the new materials at the Fraunhofer ISC booth # 1021 in North Hall D during the SID International Symposium on Information Display held from 22 to 27 May 2016 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center.
Staphylococcus aureus usually is a formidable bacterial pathogen. Sometimes, however, weakened forms are found in the blood of patients. Researchers of the University of Würzburg have now identified one mutation responsible for that phenomenon.
Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium that is frequently found on the human skin and in the nose where it usually behaves inconspicuously. However, once inside...
24.05.2016 | Event News
20.05.2016 | Event News
19.05.2016 | Event News
24.05.2016 | Earth Sciences
24.05.2016 | Information Technology
24.05.2016 | Materials Sciences