Repression of the Heat Shock Response Is a Programmed Event at the Onset of Reproduction

Mol Cell. 2015 Aug 20;59(4):639-50. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2015.06.027. Epub 2015 Jul 23.


The heat shock response (HSR) is essential for proteostasis and cellular health. In metazoans, aging is associated with a decline in quality control, thus increasing the risk for protein conformational disease. Here, we show that in C. elegans, the HSR declines precipitously over a 4 hr period in early adulthood coincident with the onset of reproductive maturity. Repression of the HSR occurs due to an increase in H3K27me3 marks at stress gene loci, the timing of which is determined by reduced expression of the H3K27 demethylase jmjd-3.1. This results in a repressed chromatin state that interferes with HSF-1 binding and suppresses transcription initiation in response to stress. The removal of germline stem cells preserves jmjd-3.1 expression, suppresses the accumulation of H3K27me3 at stress gene loci, and maintains the HSR. These findings suggest that competing requirements of the germline and soma dictate organismal stress resistance as animals begin reproduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult Stem Cells / physiology
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / cytology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Heat-Shock Response*
  • Histone Demethylases / genetics
  • Histone Demethylases / metabolism
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Transport
  • Reproduction
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Histones
  • Transcription Factors
  • heat shock factor-1, C elegans
  • Histone Demethylases
  • JMJD-3.1 protein, C elegans