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Mol Microbiol. 1994 Mar;11(5):811-8.

The cold-shock response--a hot topic.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway 08854.


The cold-shock response of Escherichia coli describes a specific pattern of gene expression in response to abrupt shifts to lower temperatures. This pattern includes the induction of cold-shock proteins, synthesis of proteins involved in transcription and translation, and repression of heat-shock proteins. The identified cold-shock proteins are involved in various cellular functions from supercoiling of DNA to initiation of translation. The major cold-shock protein, CspA, has high sequence similarity with three other E. coli proteins--CspB, CspC, and CspD. Using translational lacZ fusions, cspB was found to be cold-shock inducible at the level of transcription like cspA, while cspC and cspD were not. The Csp proteins, which share sequence similarity with other prokaryotic proteins and with the 'cold-shock domain' of eukaryotic Y-box proteins, may have a function in activating transcription or unwinding or masking RNA molecules. Because the cold-shock response can also be induced by the addition of certain inhibitors of translation, it has been proposed that the state of the ribosome is the physiological sensor for the induction. In addition to E. coli, cold-shock proteins have also been found in other prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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