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Concept: Chaperone


Systemic chemotherapy using two-drug platinum-based regimens for the treatment of advanced stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has largely reached a plateau of effectiveness. Accordingly, efforts to improve survival and quality of life outcomes have more recently focused on the use of molecularly targeted agents, either alone or in combination with standard of care therapies such as taxanes. The molecular chaperone heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) represents an attractive candidate for therapeutic intervention, as its inhibition results in the simultaneous blockade of multiple oncogenic signaling cascades. Ganetespib is a non-ansamycin inhibitor of Hsp90 currently under clinical evaluation in a number of human malignancies, including NSCLC. Here we show that ganetespib potentiates the cytotoxic activity of the taxanes paclitaxel and docetaxel in NSCLC models. The combination of ganetespib with paclitaxel, docetaxel or another microtubule-targeted agent vincristine resulted in synergistic antiproliferative effects in the H1975 cell line in vitro. These benefits translated to improved efficacy in H1975 xenografts in vivo, with significantly enhanced tumor growth inhibition observed in combination with paclitaxel and tumor regressions seen with docetaxel. Notably, concurrent exposure to ganetespib and docetaxel improved antitumor activity in 5 of 6 NSCLC xenograft models examined. Our data suggest that the improved therapeutic indices are likely to be mechanistically multifactorial, including loss of pro-survival signaling and direct cell cycle effects resulting from Hsp90 modulation by ganetespib. Taken together, these findings provide preclinical evidence for the use of this combination to treat patients with advanced NSCLC.

Concepts: Cancer, Lung cancer, Non-small cell lung carcinoma, Cancer staging, Chemotherapy, Chaperone, Heat shock protein, Paclitaxel


Pirfenidone is a novel anti-fibrotic and anti-inflammatory agent that inhibits the progression of fibrosis in animal models and in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). We previously showed that pirfenidone inhibits the over-expression of collagen type I and of heat shock protein (HSP) 47, a collagen-specific molecular chaperone, in human lung fibroblasts stimulated with transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 in vitro. The increased numbers of HSP47-positive type II pneumocytes as well as fibroblasts were also diminished by pirfenidone in an animal model of pulmonary fibrosis induced by bleomycin. The present study evaluates the effects of pirfenidone on collagen type I and HSP47 expression in the human alveolar epithelial cell line, A549 cells in vitro.

Concepts: Protein, Cell, Lung, Collagen, Fibrosis, Chaperone, Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, Heat shock protein


Heat shock protein information resource (HSPIR) is a concerted database of six major heat shock proteins (HSPs), namely, Hsp70, Hsp40, Hsp60, Hsp90, Hsp100 and small HSP. The HSPs are essential for the survival of all living organisms, as they protect the conformations of proteins on exposure to various stress conditions. They are a highly conserved group of proteins involved in diverse physiological functions, including de novo folding, disaggregation and protein trafficking. Moreover, their critical role in the control of disease progression made them a prime target of research. Presently, limited information is available on HSPs in reference to their identification and structural classification across genera. To that extent, HSPIR provides manually curated information on sequence, structure, classification, ontology, domain organization, localization and possible biological functions extracted from UniProt, GenBank, Protein Data Bank and the literature. The database offers interactive search with incorporated tools, which enhances the analysis. HSPIR is a reliable resource for researchers exploring structure, function and evolution of HSPs.

Concepts: DNA, Protein structure, Gene, Biology, Organism, Chaperone, Heat shock protein, Bioinformatics databases


BACKGROUND: Although the aggregation of PrPSc is thought to be crucial for the neuropathology of prion diseases, there is evidence in cultured cells and transgenic mice that neuronal death can be triggered by the accumulation of cytosolic PrPs, leading to the hypothesis that the accumulation of PrPs in the cytosol of neurons may be a primary neurotoxic culprit. Hsp70, a molecular chaperone involved in protein folding/refolding and degradation in the cytoplasm, has a protective effect in some models of neurodegenerative diseases, e.g., Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, but its role in prion diseases remains unclear. RESULTS: To study the role of Hsp70 in prion diseases, we used immunoprecipitation to first identify a molecular interaction between Hsp70 and PrPs. Using immunofluorescence, we found that Hsp70 colocalized with cytosolic PrPs in HEK293 cells transiently transfected with plasmids for Cyto-PrP and PG14-PrP but not with wild-type PG5-PrP or endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-retained PrPs (3AV-PrP and ER-PrP). Using western blot analysis and apoptosis assays of cultured cells, we found that the overexpression of Hsp70 by transfection or the activation of Hsp70 by geldanamycin selectively mediated the degradation of cytosolic PrPs and restored cytosolic PrP-induced cytotoxicity. Moreover, we found that Hsp70 levels were up-regulated in cells expressing Cyto-PrP and in hamster brains infected with the scrapie agent 263K. CONCLUSION: These data imply that Hsp70 has central role in the metabolism of cytosolic PrPs.

Concepts: Protein, Gene expression, Cell, Molecular biology, Endoplasmic reticulum, Prion, Chaperone, Heat shock protein


Heat-shock protein 70 (HSP70) is known to function as a protective molecular chaperone that is massively induced in response to misfolded proteins following cerebral ischemia. The objective of this study was to characterize HSP70 induction by Z-ligustilide and explore its potential role in protection against cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury. Our results demonstrated that the intranasal administration of Z-ligustilide reduced infarct volume and improved neurological function in a rat stroke model. Meanwhile, Z-ligustilide enhanced the cell viability of PC12 cells insulted by oxygen glucose deprivation-reoxygenation (OGD-Reoxy) and decreased apoptotic and necrotic cell death. Importantly, Z-ligustilide induced HSP70 expression both in vitro and in vivo. Although heat-shock factor 1 (HSF1) nuclear translocation was promoted by Z-ligustilide, HSP70-based heat-shock element (HSE)-binding luciferase activity was not activated, and HSP70 expression responsive to Z-ligustilide was not attenuated by HSE decoy oligonucleotides. However, Z-ligustilide significantly activated the phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs). Further inhibition of MAPK activity by specific inhibitors attenuated HSP70 induction by Z-ligustilide. Meanwhile, downregulation of HSP70 using KNK437, an HSP70 synthesis inhibitor, or small hairpin RNA (shRNA) significantly attenuated the protection of Z-ligustilide against OGD-Reoxy-induced injury. Moreover, the application of specific inhibitors of MAPKs also achieved similar results. Finally, Z-ligustilide alleviated the accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins induced by OGD-Reoxy, which was inhibited by HSP70-shRNA. Taken together, our results demonstrated that Z-ligustilide may induce protective HSP70 expression via the activation of the MAPK pathway, but not canonical HSF1 transcription. HSP70 plays a key role in the protection of Z-ligustilide against OGD-Reoxy-induced injury.

Concepts: Protein, Signal transduction, Adenosine triphosphate, Enzyme, Chaperone, Proteasome, Mitogen-activated protein kinase, Heat shock protein


Nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyl transferase 2 (NMNAT2) is neuroprotective in numerous preclinical models of neurodegeneration. Here, we show that brain nmnat2 mRNA levels correlate positively with global cognitive function and negatively with AD pathology. In AD brains, NMNAT2 mRNA and protein levels are reduced. NMNAT2 shifts its solubility and colocalizes with aggregated Tau in AD brains, similar to chaperones, which aid in the clearance or refolding of misfolded proteins. Investigating the mechanism of this observation, we discover a novel chaperone function of NMNAT2, independent from its enzymatic activity. NMNAT2 complexes with heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) to refold aggregated protein substrates. NMNAT2’s refoldase activity requires a unique C-terminal ATP site, activated in the presence of HSP90. Furthermore, deleting NMNAT2 function increases the vulnerability of cortical neurons to proteotoxic stress and excitotoxicity. Interestingly, NMNAT2 acts as a chaperone to reduce proteotoxic stress, while its enzymatic activity protects neurons from excitotoxicity. Taken together, our data indicate that NMNAT2 exerts its chaperone or enzymatic function in a context-dependent manner to maintain neuronal health.

Concepts: Proteins, Protein, Brain, Enzyme, Protein folding, Chaperone, Heat shock protein, Hsp90


The proteostasis network has evolved to support protein folding under normal conditions and to expand this capacity in response to proteotoxic stresses. Nevertheless, many pathogenic states are associated with protein misfolding, revealing in vivo limitations on quality control mechanisms. One contributor to these limitations is the physical characteristics of misfolded proteins, as exemplified by amyloids, which are largely resistant to clearance. However, other limitations imposed by the cellular environment are poorly understood. To identify cell-based restrictions on proteostasis capacity, we determined the mechanism by which thermal stress cures the [PSI(+)]/Sup35 prion. Remarkably, Sup35 amyloid is disassembled at elevated temperatures by the molecular chaperone Hsp104. This process requires Hsp104 engagement with heat-induced non-prion aggregates in late cell-cycle stage cells, which promotes its asymmetric retention and thereby effective activity. Thus, cell division imposes a potent limitation on proteostasis capacity that can be bypassed by the spatial engagement of a quality control factor.

Concepts: Proteins, Protein, Protein structure, Cell, Endoplasmic reticulum, Protein folding, Prion, Chaperone


Heat shock cognate protein 70 (HSC70) is a constitutively expressed molecular chaperone which belongs to the heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) family. HSC70 shares some of the structural and functional similarity with HSP70. HSC70 also has different properties compared with HSP70 and other heat shock family members. HSC70 performs its full functions by the cooperation of co-chaperones. It interacts with many other molecules as well and regulates various cellular functions. It is also involved in various diseases and may become a biomarker for diagnosis and potential therapeutic targets for design, discovery, and development of novel drugs to treat various diseases. In this article, we provide a comprehensive review on HSC70 from the literatures including the basic general information such as classification, structure and cellular location, genetics and function, as well as its protein association and interaction with other proteins. In addition, we also discussed the relationship of HSC70 and related clinical diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular, neurological, hepatic and many other diseases and possible therapeutic potential and highlight the progress and prospects of research in this field. Understanding the functions of HSC70 and its interaction with other molecules will help us to reveal other novel properties of this protein. Scientists may be able to utilize this protein as a biomarker and therapeutic target to make significant advancement in scientific research and clinical setting in the future.

Concepts: Protein, Medicine, Endoplasmic reticulum, Protein folding, Chaperone, Proteasome, Heat shock protein, Hsp70


OBJECTIVES: Targeted therapies for systemic sclerosis (SSc) and other fibrotic diseases are not yet available. We evaluated the efficacy of heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) inhibition as a novel approach to inhibition of aberrant transforming growth factor (TGF)-β signalling and for the treatment of fibrosis in preclinical models of SSc. METHODS: Expression of Hsp90 was quantified by quantitative PCR, western blot and immunohistochemistry. The effects of Hsp90 inhibition were analysed in cultured fibroblasts, in bleomycin-induced dermal fibrosis, in tight-skin (Tsk-1) mice and in mice overexpressing a constitutively active TGF-β receptor I (TβRI). RESULTS: Expression of Hsp90β was increased in SSc skin and in murine models of SSc in a TGF-β-dependent manner. Inhibition of Hsp90 by 17-dimethylaminoethylamino-17-demethoxy-geldanamycin (17-DMAG) inhibited canonical TGF-β signalling and completely prevented the stimulatory effects of TGF-β on collagen synthesis and myofibroblast differentiation. Treatment with 17-DMAG decreased the activation of canonical TGF-β signalling in murine models of SSc and exerted potent antifibrotic effects in bleomycin-induced dermal fibrosis, in Tsk-1 mice and in mice overexpressing a constitutively active TβRI. Dermal thickness, number of myofibroblasts and hydroxyproline content were all significantly reduced on treatment with 17-DMAG. No toxic effects were observed with 17-DMAG at antifibrotic doses. CONCLUSIONS: Hsp90 is upregulated in SSc and is critical for TGF-β signalling. Pharmacological inhibition of Hsp90 effectively blocks the profibrotic effects of TGF-β in cultured fibroblasts and in different preclinical models of SSc. These results have translational implications, as several Hsp90 inhibitors are in clinical trials for other indications.

Concepts: Molecular biology, Signal transduction, Collagen, Fibrosis, Chaperone, Heat shock protein, Scleroderma, Systemic scleroderma


Brain injury induces an acute increase in the expression of gap junction protein connexin43 (Cx43). It also leads to cerebral edema, probably due to the swelling and proliferation of astrocytes reactive to the injury. Antisense oligodeoxynucleotides (AS-ODN) targeting Cx43 were tested for their ability to reduce reactive astrocytosis and cerebral edema in a rat model of traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Concepts: Nervous system, DNA, Molecular biology, Traumatic brain injury, Chaperone