Choosing the target loci : heat shock factors HSF1 and HSF2 as regulators of cell stress and development
Vihervaara, Anniina (2014-08-29)
Åbo Akademi - Åbo Akademi University
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Heat shock factors (HSFs) are an evolutionarily well conserved family of transcription factors that coordinate stress-induced gene expression and direct versatile physiological processes in eukaryote organisms. The essentiality of HSFs for cellular homeostasis has been well demonstrated, mainly through HSF1-induced transcription of heat shock protein (HSP) genes. HSFs are important regulators of many fundamental processes such as gametogenesis, metabolic control and aging, and are involved in pathological conditions including cancer progression and neurodegenerative diseases. In each of the HSF-mediated processes, however, the detailed mechanisms of HSF family members and their complete set of target genes have remained unknown. Recently, rapid advances in chromatin studies have enabled genome-wide characterization of protein binding sites in a high resolution and in an unbiased manner. In this PhD thesis, these novel methods that base on chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) are utilized and the genome-wide target loci for HSF1 and HSF2 are identified in cellular stress responses and in developmental processes. The thesis and its original publications characterize the individual and shared target genes of HSF1 and HSF2, describe HSF1 as a potent transactivator, and discover HSF2 as an epigenetic regulator that coordinates gene expression throughout the cell cycle progression. In male gametogenesis, novel physiological functions for HSF1 and HSF2 are revealed and HSFs are demonstrated to control the expression of X- and Y-chromosomal multicopy genes in a silenced chromatin environment. In stressed human cells, HSF1 and HSF2 are shown to coordinate the expression of a wide variety of genes including genes for chaperone machinery, ubiquitin, regulators of cell cycle progression and signaling. These results highlight the importance of cell type and cell cycle phase in transcriptional responses, reveal the myriad of processes that are adjusted in a stressed cell and describe novel mechanisms that maintain transcriptional memory in mitotic cell division.