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Physiol Genomics. 2010 Apr 1;41(2):171-84. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00209.2009. Epub 2010 Jan 26.

Heat shock response of killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus): candidate gene and heterologous microarray approaches.

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Department of Zoology, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada.


Northern and southern subspecies of the Atlantic killifish, Fundulus heteroclitus, differ in maximal thermal tolerance. To determine whether these subspecies also differ in their heat shock response (HSR), we exposed 20°C acclimated killifish to a 2 h heat shock at 34°C and examined gene expression in fish from both subspecies during heat shock and recovery using real-time quantitative PCR and a heterologous cDNA microarray designed for salmonid fishes. The heat shock proteins Hsp70-1, hsp27, and hsp30 were upregulated to a greater extent in the high temperature-tolerant southern subspecies than in the less tolerant northern subspecies, whereas hsp70-2 (which showed the largest upregulation of all the heat shock proteins) in both gill and muscle and hsp90α in muscle was upregulated to a greater extent in northern than in southern fish. These data demonstrate that differences in the HSR between subspecies cannot be due to changes in a single global regulator but must occur via gene-specific mechanisms. They also suggest that the role, if any, of hsps in establishing thermal tolerance is complex and varies from gene to gene. Heterologous microarray hybridization provided interpretable gene expression signatures, detecting differential regulation of genes known to be involved in the heat shock response in other species. Under control conditions, a variety of genes were differentially expressed in muscle between subspecies that suggest differences in muscle fiber type and could relate to previously observed differences between subspecies in the thermal sensitivity of swimming performance and metabolism.

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