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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1993 Oct 6;85(19):1558-70.

Biological and clinical implications of heat shock protein 27,000 (Hsp27): a review.

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Department of Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio 78284-7884.


Heat shock and other environmental and pathophysiologic stresses stimulate synthesis of heat shock proteins (Hsps). These proteins enable the cell to survive and recover from stressful conditions by as yet uncompletely understood mechanisms. Hsp27 is an important small Hsp (molecular weight, 27,000) found in human cells--both cancer cells and normal cells. This protein, besides its putative role in thermotolerance, is of special clinical interest because of recent data suggesting it may also play a role in drug resistance. In adults, Hsp27 is found particularly in several cell types such as breast, uterus, cervix, placenta, skin, and platelets. Although low-molecular-weight (small) Hsps have been found to be involved in embryogenesis of Xenopus and Drosophila, they have not been detected in human fetal organs. Regulation of expression of the Hsp gene (also known as HSPB1) has been considered a paradigm of gene regulation and is actively being studied in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. In prokaryotes, the major Hsp genes are transcriptionally regulated by positively and negatively acting transcription factors. In eukaryotes, the genes encoding Hsps contain a regulatory DNA motif (inverted repeats of the pentameric sequence nGAAn) known as the heat shock element. Hsp27 may function as a molecular chaperone and in signal transduction pathways of different cell regulators, and Hsp27 and other Hsps may be active in development of resistance to stressful conditions and agents including cytotoxic drugs. Study findings indicate that some but not all estrogen-positive breast cancers express Hsp27, and overexpression of Hsp27 has been associated with both good and poor prognosis. In endometrial carcinomas, the presence of Hsp27 is correlated with the degree of tumor differentiation as well as with the presence of estrogen and progesterone receptors. Studies suggest, however, that detection of Hsp27 should not be considered to be a method for identifying hormone-responsive tumors or detecting estrogen receptors. Hsp27 seems to be a biochemical marker of estrogenic endometrial response. In patients with cervical cancer, Hsp27 is predominantly expressed in well-differentiated and moderately differentiated squamous cell carcinomas. In addition, expression of Hsp27 seems to be a negative prognostic factor for gastric cancer. Different isoforms of Hsp27 have been found in lymphoid tissue of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and the protein has also been associated with viral infections. These aspects are summarized and discussed in the present review.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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