Integrating stress responses across tissues is essential for the survival of multicellular organisms. The metazoan nervous system can sense protein-misfolding stress arising in different subcellular compartments and initiate cytoprotective transcriptional responses in the periphery. Several subcellular compartments possess a homotypic signal whereby the respective compartment relies on a single signaling mechanism to convey information within the affected cell to the same stress-responsive pathway in peripheral tissues. In contrast, we find that the heat shock transcription factor, HSF-1, specifies its mode of transcellular protection via two distinct signaling pathways. Upon thermal stress, neural HSF-1 primes peripheral tissues through the thermosensory neural circuit to mount a heat shock response. Independent of this thermosensory circuit, neural HSF-1 activates the FOXO transcription factor, DAF-16, in the periphery and prolongs lifespan. Thus a single transcription factor can coordinate different stress response pathways to specify its mode of protection against changing environmental conditions.
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