Cold shock response in mammalian cells

J Mol Microbiol Biotechnol. 1999 Nov;1(2):243-55.


Compared to bacteria and plants, the cold shock response has attracted little attention in mammals except in some areas such as adaptive thermogenesis, cold tolerance, storage of cells and organs, and recently, treatment of brain damage and protein production. At the cellular level, some responses of mammalian cells are similar to microorganisms; cold stress changes the lipid composition of cellular membranes, and suppresses the rate of protein synthesis and cell proliferation. Although previous studies have mostly dealt with temperatures below 20 degrees C, mild hypothermia (32 degrees C) can change the cell's response to subsequent stresses as exemplified by APG-1, a member of the HSP110 family. Furthermore, 32 degrees C induces expression of CIRP (cold-inducible RNA-binding protein), the first cold shock protein identified in mammalian cells, without recovery at 37 degrees C. Remniscent of HSP, CIRP is also expressed at 37 degrees C and developmentary regulated, possibly working as an RNA chaperone. Mammalian cells are metabolically active at 32 degrees C, and cells may survive and respond to stresses with different strategies from those at 37 degrees C. Cellular and molecular biology of mammalian cells at 32 degrees C is a new area expected to have considerable implications for medical sciences and possibly biotechnology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Heat-Shock Response
  • Humans
  • Mammals
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / physiology


  • CIRBP protein, human
  • RNA-Binding Proteins