Hsp70 prevents activation of stress kinases: A novel pathway of cellular thermotolerance

Vladimir L. Gabai, Anatoli B. Meriin, Dick D. Mosser, A. W. Caron, Sophia Rits, Victor I. Shifrin, Michael Y. Sherman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

487 Scopus citations


Harmful conditions including heat shock, oxidative stress, UV, and so forth cause programmed cell death, whose triggering requires activation of the Jun N-terminal kinase, JNK. High levels of Hsp72, a heat-inducible member of Hsp70 family, protect cells against a variety of stresses by a mechanism that is unclear at present. Here we report that elevated levels of Hsp72 inhibit a signal transduction pathway leading to programmed cell death by preventing stress-induced activation of JNK. Stress-induced activation of another stress-kinase, p38 (HOG1), is also blocked when the level of Hsp72 is increased. Similarly, addition of a purified recombinant Hsp72 to a crude cell lysate reduced p38 kinase activation, while depletion of the whole family of Hsp70 proteins with a monoclonal antibody enhanced such activation. In addition, we have found that accumulation of abnormal proteins in cells upon incubation with amino acid analogs causes activation of JNK and p38 kinases, which can be prevented by overproduction of Hsp72. Taken together, these data suggest that, in regulation of JNK and p38 kinases, Hsp70 serves as a 'sensor' of the build-up of abnormal proteins after heat shock and other stresses. The inhibitory effect of an increased level of Hsp70 on JNK appears to be a major contributor to acquired thermotolerance in mammalian cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18033-18037
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number29
StatePublished - 18 Jul 1997
Externally publishedYes


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