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Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2006;(172):139-52.

Heat shock response: lessons from mouse knockouts.

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Centre de Biologie du Développement, UMR5547, Toulouse, France.


Organisms are endowed with integrated regulatory networks that transduce and amplify incoming signals into effective responses, ultimately imparting cell death and/or survival pathways. As a conserved cytoprotective mechanism from bacteria to humans, the heat shock response has been established as a paradigm for inducible gene expression, stimulating the interests of biologists and clinicians alike to tackle fundamental questions related to the molecular switches, lineage-specific requirements, unique and/or redundant roles, and even efforts to harness the response therapeutically. Gene targeting studies in mice confirm HSF1 as a master regulator required for cell growth, embryonic development, and reproduction. For example, sterility of Hsf1-null female but not null male mice established strict requirements for maternal HSF1 expression in the oocyte. Yet Hsf2 knockouts by three independent laboratories have not fully clarified the role of mammalian HSF2 for normal development, fertility, and postnatal neuronal function. In contrast, Hsf4 knockouts have provided a consistent demonstration for HSF4's critical role during lens formation. In the future, molecular analysis of HSF knockout mice will bring new insights to HSF interactions, foster better understanding of gene regulation at the genome level, lead to a better integration of the HSF pathway in life beyond heat shock, the classical laboratory challenge.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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