hsp22 is among the least abundantly expressed Drosophila heat shock (hs) genes during both development and heat stress. In contrast, hsp22 was found to be the most abundantly expressed hs gene during Drosophila aging. During aging, hsp22 RNA was induced 60-fold in the head, with somewhat lower level induction in abdomen and thorax. Induction of the other hs gene RNAs was </=3-fold, except for hsp23, which was induced approximately 5-fold in thorax. hsp22 protein was detected using rat anti-hsp22 polyclonal antisera and was induced >150-fold, with particularly abundant expression in eye tissue. Aging-specific induction of hsp22 was reproduced by hsp22:lacZ fusion reporter constructs in transgenic flies. Analysis of specific promoter mutations in transgenic flies indicated that functional heat shock response elements are required for hsp22 induction during aging. Finally, comparison of hsp22 RNA and protein expression patterns suggests that aging-specific expression of hsp22 is regulated at both the transcriptional and the posttranscriptional levels. Aging-specific induction of hsp22 is discussed with regard to current evolutionary theories of aging.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.