Hsp90: a chaperone for protein folding and gene regulation

Biochem Cell Biol. 2005 Dec;83(6):703-10. doi: 10.1139/o05-158.


Molecular chaperones are essential components of a quality control machinery present in the cell. They can either aid in the folding and maintenance of newly translated proteins, or they can lead to the degradation of misfolded and destabilized proteins. Hsp90 is a key member of this machinery. It is a ubiquitous molecular chaperone that is found in eubacteria and all branches of eukarya. It plays a central role in cellular signaling since it is essential for maintaining the activity of several signaling proteins, including steroid hormone receptors and protein kinases. Hsp90 is currently a novel anticancer drug target since it is overexpressed in some cancer cells. The chaperone typically functions as part of large complexes, which include other chaperones and essential cofactors that regulate its function. It is thought that different cofactors target Hsp90 to different sets of substrates. However, the mechanism of Hsp90 function remains poorly understood. As part of an effort to elucidate the Hsp90 chaperone network, we carried out a large-scale proteomics study to identify physical and genetic interactors of the chaperone. We identified 2 highly conserved novel Hsp90 cofactors, termed Tah1 and Pih1, that bind to the chaperone and that also associate physically and functionally with the essential DNA helicases Rvb1 and Rvb2. These helicases are key components of the chromatin remodeling complexes Ino80 and SWR-C. Tah1 and Pih1 seem to represent a novel class of Hsp90 cofactors that allow the chaperone to indirectly affect gene regulation in the cell in addition to its ability to directly promote protein folding. In this review, we provide an overview of Hsp90 structure and function, and we discuss the literature that links the chaperone activity to gene regulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism*
  • Protein Folding*
  • Protein Transport / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Molecular Chaperones