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Experientia. 1992 Jul 15;48(7):629-34.

Mammalian heat shock protein families. Expression and functions.

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Groupe de Biologie Moléculaire du Stress, Département de Biologie, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France.


When prokaryotic or eukaryotic cells are submitted to a transient rise in temperature or to other proteotoxic treatments, the synthesis of a set of proteins called the heat shock proteins (hsp) is induced. The structure of these proteins has been highly conserved during evolution. The signal leading to the transcriptional activation of the corresponding genes is the accumulation of denatured and/or aggregated proteins inside the cells after stressful treatment. The expression of a subset of hsp is also induced during early embryogenesis and many differentiation processes. Two different functions have been ascribed to hsp: a molecular chaperone function: chaperones mediate the folding, assembly or translocation across the intracellular membranes of other polypeptides, and a role in protein degradation: some of the essential components of the cytoplasmic ubiquitin-dependent degradative pathway are hsp. These functions of hsp are essential in every living cell. They are required for repairing the damage resulting from stress.

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