Membrane-associated stress proteins: more than simply chaperones

Biochim Biophys Acta. Jul-Aug 2008;1778(7-8):1653-64. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2008.02.012. Epub 2008 Mar 5.


The protein- and/or lipid-mediated association of chaperone proteins to membranes is a widespread phenomenon and implicated in a number of physiological and pathological events that were earlier partially or completely overlooked. A temporary association of certain HSPs with membranes can re-establish the fluidity and bilayer stability and thereby restore the membrane functionality during stress conditions. The fluidity and microdomain organization of membranes are decisive factors in the perception and transduction of stresses into signals that trigger the activation of specific HS genes. Conversely, the membrane association of HSPs may result in the inactivation of membrane-perturbing signals, thereby switch off the heat shock response. Interactions between certain HSPs and specific lipid microdomains ("rafts") might be a previously unrecognized means for the compartmentalization of HSPs to specific signaling platforms, where key signaling proteins are known to be concentrated. Any modulations of the membranes, especially the raft-lipid composition of the cells can alter the extracellular release and thus the immuno-stimulatory activity of certain HSPs. Reliable techniques, allowing mapping of the composition and dynamics of lipid microdomains and simultaneously the spatio-temporal localization of HSPs in and near the plasma membrane can provide suitable means with which to address fundamental questions, such as how HSPs are transported to and translocated through the plasma membrane. The possession of such information is critical if we are to target the membrane association principles of HSPs for successful drug development in most various diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Membranes / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Chaperones / genetics
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Molecular Chaperones