Heat shock proteins (HSPs) refold damaged proteins and are an essential component of the heat shock response. Previously, the 70 kDa heat shock protein (HSP70) has been reported to translocate into the nucleus in a heat-dependent manner in many organisms. In humans, the heat-induced translocation of HSP70 requires the nuclear carrier protein Hikeshi. In the Arabidopsis genome, only one gene encodes a protein with high homology to Hikeshi, and we named this homolog Hikeshi-like (HKL) protein. In this study, we show that two Arabidopsis HSP70 isoforms accumulate in the nucleus in response to heat shock and that HKL interacts with these HSP70s. Our histochemical analysis revealed that HKL is predominantly expressed in meristematic tissues, suggesting the potential importance of HKL during cell division in Arabidopsis. In addition, we show that HKL regulates HSP70 localization, and HKL overexpression conferred thermotolerance to transgenic Arabidopsis plants. Our results suggest that HKL plays a positive role in the thermotolerance of Arabidopsis plants and cooperatively interacts with HSP70.
Keywords: Arabidopsis; Heat shock protein; Nuclear carrier protein; Thermotolerance; Transgenic plants.
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