Cell Stress and Chaperones

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 529–540 | Cite as

Characterization of the small heat shock protein Hsp27 gene in Chironomus riparius (Diptera) and its expression profile in response to temperature changes and xenobiotic exposures

  • Pedro Martínez-Paz
  • Mónica Morales
  • Raquel Martín
  • José Luis Martínez-Guitarte
  • Gloria MorcilloEmail author
Original Paper


Small heat shock proteins constitute the most diverse and least conserved group within the large family of heat shock proteins, which play a crucial role in cell response to environmental insults. Chironomus riparius larvae are widely used in environmental research for testing pollutant toxicity in sediments and freshwater environments. Different genes, such as Hsp70, Hsc70, Hsp90, and Hsp40, have been identified in this species as sensitive biomarkers for xenobiotics, but small Hsps genes remain largely unknown. In this study, the Hsp27 has been characterized in C. riparius and its transcriptional response evaluated under several environmental stimuli. The Hsp27 gene was mapped by FISH on polytene chromosomes at region I-C4 and was found to encode a 195 aa protein, which contains an α-crystallin domain bounded by three conserved regions. This protein shows homology with Drosophila melanogaster HSP27, Ceratitis capitata HSP27, and Sarcophaga crassipalpis HSP25. Real-time reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction analysis showed that heat shock (35 °C) and cadmium dramatically upregulate this gene. Moreover, exposures to triclosan and bisphenol A were able to significantly increase mRNA levels. However, neither nonylphenol nor tributyltin altered Hsp27 gene expression. The transcriptional activity of Hsp27 gene was modulated during cold stress. Interestingly, cold shock (4 °C) significantly reduced Hsp27 transcripts, but this gene was significantly overexpressed during the recovery time at the normal growing temperature. These results show that the Hsp27 gene is sensitive to different environmental stimuli, including endocrine-disrupting pollutants, suggesting its potential as a suitable biomarker for ecotoxicological studies in aquatic systems.


Cold heat shock Cadmium Bisphenol A (BPA) 4-Nonylphenol (NP) Tributyltin (TBT) Triclosan (TCS) 



The authors wish to thank Dr T. Carretero (University of Zaragoza) and Ted Cater for critical reading of the manuscript. This work was supported by the Plan Nacional de Investigación Científica, Desarrollo e Innovación Tecnológica (Spain), grant CTM2012-37547 from the Ciencias y Tecnologías Medioambientales program. The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Cell Stress Society International 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pedro Martínez-Paz
    • 1
  • Mónica Morales
    • 1
  • Raquel Martín
    • 1
  • José Luis Martínez-Guitarte
    • 1
  • Gloria Morcillo
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Grupo de Biología y Toxicología Ambiental, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, UNEDMadridSpain
  2. 2.Facultad de CienciasUNEDMadridSpain

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