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J Biol Chem. 1989 Jul 15;264(20):12037-45.

Attenuated induction of heat shock gene expression in aging diploid fibroblasts.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Rutgers, State University of New Jersey, Piscataway 08855-1059.


We examined the effects of cellular aging on the regulation of heat shock gene expression in IMR-90 human diploid fibroblasts. Heat shock (42-43 degrees C) and canavanine (200-400 micrograms/ml) were used to evoke the heat shock response in these cells. We showed that heat shock induced the synthesis of proteins with apparent molecular weights of 98,000, 89,000, 78,000, 72,000, 64,000, 50,000 and 25,000, with heat shock protein (HSP) 89 and 72 being most prominent. Canavanine induced the synthesis of the four high molecular weight HSPs, particularly HSP 89 and HSP 78, without noticeably enhancing synthesis of the low molecular weight HSPs. We found that, while a similar series of HSPs were induced in the young and old cells, there was a marked decrease in the magnitude of this induction in the old cells. Using cells with defined population doubling levels, we observed a direct correlation of the inducibility of HSP synthesis and the replicative potential of the cells used. Analysis of the amount of translatable and hybridizable mRNA, by the methods of in vitro translation and Northern blot hybridization, demonstrated that the induction of HSPs synthesis can be accounted for by increases in their mRNA. Nuclear runoff transcription provided evidence that the decrease in inducible expression of the HSPs in aging IMR-90 cells was attributable to a transcriptional mechanism. This conclusion was substantiated by analysis of the hsp 70 promoter activity in transient expression assay of the hsp 70 promoter-chloramphenicol acetyltransferase construct. We propose that there is an age-associated dysfunction in the signaling mechanism of the heat shock response.

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