Environmental conditions that change temperature, light environment, water status, or hormone balance lead to altered gene expression in plants. At the molecular level, one of the best-characterized environmental responses is the response to high temperature or heat shock. Ten years ago it was shown that when seedlings are shifted to temperatures five or more degrees above optimal growing temperatures, synthesis of most normal proteins and mRNAs is repressed, and transcription and translation of a small set of "heat shock proteins" (HSPs) is initiated (7, 88, 118, 121 , 127 for review). The heat shock response is not unique to plants. It was first discovered in Drosophila in the 1960s and has been described in a wide range of organisms including EsÂ cherichia coli, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and humans (loa, 115, 126). A comparison of the response in different organisms has shown that it is highly conserved in two important ways: (a) the molecular mechanism of gene induction by heat shows many similarities among diverse eukaryotes; and (b) the major HSPs are highly homologous among eukaryotes, and in several cases, homologous proteins have been identified in prokaryotes as well. The evolutionary conservation of the heat shock response argues strongly that
Annual Review of Plant Biology – Annual Reviews
Published: Jun 1, 1991
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