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J Cell Physiol. 1997 May;171(2):143-51.

Proteins containing non-native disulfide bonds generated by oxidative stress can act as signals for the induction of the heat shock response.

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Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee 37232, USA.


While oxidative stress can induce a heat shock response, the primary signals that initiate activation have not been identified. To identify such signals, HepG2 and V 79 cells were exposed to menadione, a compound that redox-cycles to generate superoxide. The oxidative stress generated by menadione resulted in oxidation of protein thiols in a dose-dependent manner. This was followed by protein destabilization and denaturation, as determined by differential scanning calorimetry of whole cells. To directly evaluate the effect of non-native disulfides on protein conformation, Ca2(+)-ATPase, isolated from rabbit sarcoplasmic reticulum, was chemically modified to contain non-native intermolecular or glutathione (GHS)-mixed disulfides. Differential scanning calorimetry profiles and 1-anilinonaphthalene-8-sulfonic acid fluorescence indicated that formation of non-native disulfides produced protein destabilization, denaturation, and exposure of hydrophobic domains. Cellular proteins shown to contain oxidized thiols formed detergent-insoluble aggregates. Cells treated with menadione exhibited activation of HSF-1, accumulated Hsp 70 mRNA, and increased synthesis of Hsp 70. This work demonstrates that formation of physiologically relevant, non-native intermolecular and GSH-mixed disulfides causes proteins to destabilize, unfold such that hydrophobic domains are exposed, and initiate a signal for induction of the heat shock response.

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