, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 477-488
Date: 27 May 2007

The role of stress proteins in responses of a montane willow leaf beetle to environmental temperature variation

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Abstract

The heat shock response is a critical mechanism by which organisms buffer effects of variable and unpredictable environmental temperatures. Upregulation of heat shock proteins (Hsps) increases survival after exposure to stressful conditions in nature, although benefits of Hsp expression are often balanced by costs to growth and reproductive success. Hsp-assisted folding of variant polypeptides may prevent development of unfit phenotypes; thus, some differences in Hsp expression among natural populations of ectotherms may be due to interactions between enzyme variants (allozymes) and Hsps. In the Sierra willow leaf beetle Chrysomela aeneicollis, which lives in highly variable thermal habitats at the southern edge of their range in the Eastern Sierra Nevada, California, allele frequencies at the enzyme locus phosphoglucose isomerase (PGI) vary across a climatic latitudinal gradient. PGI allozymes differ in kinetic properties, and expression of a 70 kDa Hsp differs between populations, along elevation gradients, and among PGI genotypes. Differences in Hsp 70 expression among PGI genotypes correspond to differences in thermal tolerance and traits important for reproductive success, such as running speed, survival and fecundity. Thus, differential Hsp expression among genotypes may allow functionally important genetic variation to persist, allowing populations to respond effectively to environmental change.