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Cell Stress Chaperones. 2011 Jul;16(4):403-10. doi: 10.1007/s12192-010-0251-5. Epub 2010 Dec 28.

Thermotolerance and hsp70 heat shock response in the cold-stenothermal chironomid Pseudodiamesa branickii (NE Italy).

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Department of Biology, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy.


To better understand the physiological capability of cold-stenothermal organisms to survive high-temperature stress, we analyzed the thermotolerance limits and the expression level of hsp70 genes under temperature stress in the alpine midge Pseudodiamesa branickii (Diptera Chironomidae). A lethal temperature (LT(100)) of 36°C and a lethal temperature 50% (LT(50)) of 32.2°C were found for the cold-stenothermal larvae after short-term shocks (1 h). Additional experiments revealed that the duration of the exposure negatively influenced survival, whereas a prior exposure to a less severe high temperature generated an increase in survival. To investigate the molecular basis of this high thermotolerance, the expression of the hsp70 gene family was surveyed via semi-quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analysis in treated larvae. The constitutive (hsc70) and inducible (hsp70) forms were both analyzed. Larvae of P. branickii showed a significant up-regulation of inducible hsp70 gene with increasing temperatures and an over-expression of both hsp70 and hsc70 by increasing the time of exposure. Different from that was shown in many cold-stenothermal Antarctic organisms, P. branickii was able to activate hsp70 genes transcription (equal to heat shock response) in response to thermal stress. Finally, the unclear relationship between hsp70 expression and survival led us to surmise that genes other than hsp70 and other processes apart from the biochemical processes might generate the high thermaltolerance of P. branickii larvae. These results and future high-throughput studies at both the transcriptome and proteome level will improve our ability to predict the future geographic distribution of this species within the context of global warming.

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