Heat shock factor 1 (HSF1) is an evolutionarily highly conserved transcription factor that coordinates stress-induced transcription and directs versatile physiological processes in eukaryotes. The central position of HSF1 in cellular homeostasis has been well demonstrated, mainly through its strong effect in transactivating genes that encode heat shock proteins (HSPs). However, recent genome-wide studies have revealed that HSF1 is capable of reprogramming transcription more extensively than previously assumed; it is also involved in a multitude of processes in stressed and non-stressed cells. Consequently, the importance of HSF1 in fundamental physiological events, including metabolism, gametogenesis and aging, has become apparent and its significance in pathologies, such as cancer progression, is now evident. In this Cell Science at a Glance article, we highlight recent advances in the HSF1 field, discuss the organismal control over HSF1, and present the processes that are mediated by HSF1 in the context of cell type, cell-cycle phase, physiological condition and received stimuli.
Keywords: Cancer progression; Chromatin environment; Heat shock factor; Organismal stress response; Proteostasis; Transcription.