Whole-genome analysis reveals that active heat shock factor binding sites are mostly associated with non-heat shock genes in Drosophila melanogaster

PLoS One. 2011 Jan 14;6(1):e15934. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015934.


During heat shock (HS) and other stresses, HS gene transcription in eukaryotes is up-regulated by the transcription factor heat shock factor (HSF). While the identities of the major HS genes have been known for more than 30 years, it has been suspected that HSF binds to numerous other genes and potentially regulates their transcription. In this study, we have used a chromatin immunoprecipitation and microarray (ChIP-chip) approach to identify 434 regions in the Drosophila genome that are bound by HSF. We have also performed a transcript analysis of heat shocked Kc167 cells and third instar larvae and compared them to HSF binding sites. The heat-induced transcription profiles were quite different between cells and larvae and surprisingly only about 10% of the genes associated with HSF binding sites show changed transcription. There were also genes that showed changes in transcript levels that did not appear to correlate with HSF binding sites. Analysis of the locations of the HSF binding sites revealed that 57% were contained within genes with approximately 2/3rds of these sites being in introns. We also found that the insulator protein, BEAF, has enriched binding prior to HS to promoters of genes that are bound by HSF upon HS but that are not transcriptionally induced during HS. When the genes associated with HSF binding sites in promoters were analyzed for gene ontology terms, categories such as stress response and transferase activity were enriched whereas analysis of genes having HSF binding sites in introns identified those categories plus ones related to developmental processes and reproduction. These results suggest that Drosophila HSF may be regulating many genes besides the known HS genes and that some of these genes may be regulated during non-stress conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry*
  • Drosophila Proteins / chemistry*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / chemistry
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genes, Insect*
  • Genome
  • Genomics / methods*
  • Heat Shock Transcription Factors
  • Heat-Shock Response / genetics*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Introns
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Heat Shock Transcription Factors
  • Hsf protein, Drosophila
  • Transcription Factors