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Biochem J. 2006 Jul 15;397(2):247-59.

Control and regulation of the cellular responses to cold shock: the responses in yeast and mammalian systems.

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Protein Science Group, Department of Biosciences, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NJ, UK.


Although the cold-shock response has now been studied in a number of different organisms for several decades, it is only in the last few years that we have begun to understand the molecular mechanisms that govern adaptation to cold stress. Notably, all organisms from prokaryotes to plants and higher eukaryotes respond to cold shock in a comparatively similar manner. The general response of cells to cold stress is the elite and rapid overexpression of a small group of proteins, the so-called CSPs (cold-shock proteins). The most well characterized CSP is CspA, the major CSP expressed in Escherichia coli upon temperature downshift. More recently, a number of reports have shown that exposing yeast or mammalian cells to sub-physiological temperatures (<30 or <37 degrees C respectively) invokes a co-ordinated cellular response involving modulation of transcription, translation, metabolism, the cell cycle and the cell cytoskeleton. In the present review, we summarize the regulation and role of cold-shock genes and proteins in the adaptive response upon decreased temperature with particular reference to yeast and in vitro cultured mammalian cells. Finally, we present an integrated model for the co-ordinated responses required to maintain the viability and integrity of mammalian cells upon mild hypothermic cold shock.

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