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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Activation of heat shock factor by alkylating agents is triggered by glutathione depletion and oxidation of protein thiols.

Transcriptional activation of heat shock protein genes is a common response to proteotoxic stress. Many drugs and chemicals that form reactive electrophiles modify protein structure by binding covalently to nucleophilic functional groups. Although many of these agents also activate transcription of the inducible member of the hsp70 gene family, it is not clear if covalent modification of cellular proteins per se is sufficient. Iodoacetamide (IDAM) is a prototypical alkylating toxicant that induces hsp70 transcription. However, IDAM-induced cell death is indirectly linked to protein alkylation through depletion of glutathione, induction of oxidative stress, and increased lipid peroxidation. Therefore, we determined if any of these secondary cytotoxic events might lead to activation of hsp70 transcription. IDAM treatment increased hsp70 transcription by activating heat shock transcription factor-1 (HSF1). The addition of antioxidants and iron or calcium chelators prevented cell death but did not prevent hsp70 transcription or HSF1 activation. However, the protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide blocked activation of hsp70 by low concentrations of IDAM. Furthermore, the addition of dithiothreitol (DTT) after IDAM removal blocked hsp70 transcription and HSF1 activation without altering IDAM binding. DTT had no effect on activation of HSF1 by hyperthermia. After IDAM treatment, cellular nonprotein and protein thiols had decreased to less than 20 and 70%, respectively, of the value in control cells. DTT treatment in situ prevented the loss of cellular protein thiols and blocked the formation of high molecular weight protein aggregates. Thus, alkylation of proteins is insufficient to activate hsp70 transcription and DNA binding of HSF1. However, cellular thiol-disulfide redox status and formation of disulfide linked aggregates of cellular proteins are linked to HSF1 activation and hsp70 transcriptional activation.[1]


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