Heat shock genes are the most evolutionarily ancient among the systems responsible for adaptation of organisms to a harsh environment. The encoded proteins (heat shock proteins, Hsps) represent the most important factors of adaptation to adverse environmental conditions. They serve as molecular chaperones, providing protein folding and preventing aggregation of damaged cellular proteins. Structural analysis of the heat shock genes in individuals from both phylogenetically close and very distant taxa made it possible to reveal the basic trends of the heat shock gene organization in the context of adaptation to extreme conditions. Using different model objects and nonmodel species from natural populations, it was demonstrated that modulation of the Hsps expression during adaptation to different environmental conditions could be achieved by changing the number and structural organization of heat shock genes in the genome, as well as the structure of their promoters. It was demonstrated that thermotolerant species were usually characterized by elevated levels of Hsps under normal temperature or by the increase in the synthesis of these proteins in response to heat shock. Analysis of the heat shock genes in phylogenetically distant organisms is of great interest because, on one hand, it contributes to the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of evolution of adaptogenes and, on the other hand, sheds the light on the role of different Hsps families in the development of thermotolerance and the resistance to other stress factors.
Russian Journal of Genetics – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 7, 2017
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