Isolation and characterization of genes encoding heat shock protein 70s (hsp 70s) from two species of the coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae and Latimeria menadoensis
The extant coelacanths have a close resemblance to the coelacanth fossil records dating back to 230mya. Like their predecessors, the extant coelacanths inhabit rocky caves at a depth of 100-300m below sea level. In the Comoros, the water temperature at these depths is estimated to fluctuate between 14-20°C. High-level adaptation to these environment and lack of competition are thought to have led to the morphological uniformity and slow change throughout the history of the coelacanths. Under stress conditions, proteins unfold or misfold leading to the formation of aggregates. Molecular chaperones facilitate the correct folding of other proteins so that they can attain a stable tertiary structure. In addition, molecular chaperones aid the refolding of denatured proteins and the degradation of terminally misfolded protein after cellular stress. Heat shock proteins form one of the major classes of molecular chaperones. Here we show that, despite high-level adaptation to a unique habitat and slow change, the genome of the coelacanth encodes the major and highly conserved molecular chaperone, Hsp70. Latimeria menadoensis and Latimeria chalumnae contain intronless hsp70 genes encoding Hsp70 proteins archetypal of known Hsp70s. Based on the coelacanth codon usage, we have shown that bacterial protein expression systems, particularly Escherichia coli, may not be appropriate for the overproduction of coelacanth Hsp70s and coelacanth proteins in general. Also interesting, was the discovery that like the rat Hsc70, the L. menadoensis Hsp70 could not reverse thermal sensitivity in a temperate sensitive E. coli DnaK mutant strain, BB2362. We also report the successful isolation of a 1.2 kb region of L. menadoensis hsp70 upstream regulatory region. This region contain three putative heat shock elements, a TATA- box and two CAAT-boxes. This regulatory region resembled the Xenopus, mouse, and particularly tilapia hsp70 promoters, all of which have been shown to drive the expression of reporter genes in a heat dependent manner. Taken together, this data is the first to strongly suggest an inducible Hsp70-base cytoprotection mechanism in the coelacanth. It further provides basis to formulate testable predictions about the regulation, structure and function of Hsp70s in the living fossil, Latimeria.
School Location:South Africa
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:biochemistry microbiology biotechnology
Date of Publication:01/01/2007