Molecular Chaperones in Health and Disease

Volume 172 of the series Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology pp 153-169

HSFs in Development

  • M. MorangeAffiliated withDépartement de Biologie, Unité de Génétique Moléculaire, Ens

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Heat shock transcription factors, as well as heat shock proteins, are involved in different steps in differentiation and development, in addition to their role in adaptation to stress. This has already been demonstrated in the case of the single heat shock factor present in Drosophila. Over the last 6 years, similar observations have accumulated from the progressive inactivation of the different hsf genes in mammals, the use of double-null animals, and the slow characterization of their complex phenotypes. Although these studies are not yet complete, the data so far can be used to draw some conclusions. All hsf genes contribute to development in mammals and to normal functions at the adult stage, by controlling the expression of Hsp and non-Hsp genes. Reproduction, the immune response and aging are the processes that are the most deeply affected. An attractive hypothesis would be that these new functions have been recruited during evolution in order to coordinate these processes: HSFsmay occupy a central place in the trade off that organisms make between reproduction and maintenance, in response to the variations in the environment.


Heat shock transcription factors Gene inactivation Reproduction Gene targets Evolution