Morgana/CHP-1 (CHORD containing protein-1) has been recently shown to be necessary for proper cell divisions. However, the presence of the protein in postmitotic tissues such as brain and striated muscle suggests that morgana/CHP-1 has additional cellular functions. Here we show that morgana/CHP-1 behaves like an HSP90 co-chaperone and possesses an independent molecular chaperone activity towards denatured proteins. The expression time profile of morgana/Chp-1 in NIH3T3 cells in response to heat stress is similar to that of Hsp70, a classical effector of Heat Shock Factor-1 mediated stress response. Moreover, overexpression of morgana/CHP-1 in NIH3T3 cells leads to the increased stress resistance of the cells. Interestingly, morgana/Chp-1 upregulation in response to transient global brain ischemia lasts longer in ischemia-resistant regions of the gerbil hippocampus than in vulnerable ones, suggesting the involvement of morgana/CHP-1 in natural protective mechanisms in vivo.
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