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Eur J Immunol. 2010 Jun;40(6):1541-4. doi: 10.1002/eji.201040616.

Stress for maintaining memory: HSP70 as a mobile messenger for innate and adaptive immunity.

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National Key Laboratory of Medical Immunology and Institute of Immunology, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, P. R. China.


HSP are abundant and conserved proteins present in all cells. Upon temperature shock or other stress stimuli, HSP are synthesized intracellularly, which may protect cells from protein denaturation or from death. Although HSP are synthesized intracellularly, HSP can also be mobilized to the plasma membrane or even be released under stress conditions. Elucidating the roles of cell surface and extracellular HSP in immune regulation has attracted much attention in recent years. Extracellularly, HSP can serve a cytokine function to initiate both innate and adaptive immunity through activation of APC. HSP serves also a chaperone function and facilitates presentation of antigen peptide to T cells. Similarly, cell surface HSP may activate APC and promote antigen presentation through cell-cell contact. A study in this issue of the European Journal of Immunology demonstrates that cell surface HSP70 on DC induced by stress can upregulate membrane-associated IL-15, which in turn promotes the proliferation of CD4(+)CD45RA memory T cells. Moreover, a DC-CD4(+) T-cell interacting circuit formed by CD40L on T cells and CD40 on DC is proposed to play a role in the maintenance of memory homeostasis. This study has widened our view of HSP in adaptive immunity as well as their classical functions such as APC activator and antigen carrier.

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