Cell Stress and Chaperones

, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 463–466 | Cite as

Stress, genomes, and evolution

  • David Mittelman
  • John H. Wilson
Perspective and Reflection Article


Evolutionary change, whether in populations of organisms or malignant tumor cells, is contingent on the availability of inherited variation for natural selection to act upon. It is becoming clear that the Hsp90 chaperone, which normally functions to buffer client proteins against the effects of genetic variation, plays a central role in this process. Severe environmental stress can overwhelm the chaperone's buffering capacity, causing previously cryptic genetic variation to be expressed. Recent studies now indicate that in addition to exposing existing variation, Hsp90 can induce novel epigenetic and genetic changes. We discuss key findings that suggest a rich set of pathways by which Hsp90 can mediate the influences of the environment on the genome.


Hsp90 chaperone Stress-induced mutation Repeat instability Evolution 



We would like to thank Dr. John W. Fondon III and Dr. Steve W. Lockless for insightful discussions and manuscript suggestions. This work was supported by an F-32 grant from the NIH (NS064762) to D.M. and an R01 grant from the NIH (GM38219) to J.H.W.


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Copyright information

© Cell Stress Society International 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human Genome Sequencing CenterBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Molecular and Human GeneticsBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Verna and Marrs McLean Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA

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