The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

High threshold for induction of the stress response in motor neurons is associated with failure to activate HSF1.

PMID 12843283


Heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) protects cultured motor neurons from the toxic effects of mutations in Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD-1), which is responsible for a familial form of the disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Here, the endogenous heat shock response of motor neurons was investigated to determine whether a high threshold for activating this protective mechanism contributes to their vulnerability to stresses associated with ALS. When heat shocked, cultured motor neurons failed to express Hsp70 or transactivate a green fluorescent protein reporter gene driven by the Hsp70 promoter, although Hsp70 was induced in glial cells. No increase in Hsp70 occurred in motor neurons after exposure to excitotoxic glutamate or expression of mutant SOD-1 with a glycine--> alanine substitution at residue 93 (G93A), nor was Hsp70 increased in spinal cords of G93A SOD-1 transgenic mice or sporadic or familial ALS patients. In contrast, strong Hsp70 induction occurred in motor neurons with expression of a constitutively active form of heat shock transcription factor (HSF)-1 or when proteasome activity was sufficiently inhibited to induce accumulation of an alternative transcription factor HSF2. These results indicate that the high threshold for induction of the stress response in motor neurons stems from an impaired ability to activate the main heat shock-stress sensor, HSF1.