Pro-death Signaling of Cytoprotective Heat Shock Factor 1: Upregulation of NOXA Leading to Apoptosis in Heat-Sensitive Cells

Cell Death Differ. 2020 Jul;27(7):2280-2292. doi: 10.1038/s41418-020-0501-8. Epub 2020 Jan 29.


Heat shock can induce either cytoprotective mechanisms or cell death. We found that in certain human and mouse cells, including spermatocytes, activated heat shock factor 1 (HSF1) binds to sequences located in the intron(s) of the PMAIP1 (NOXA) gene and upregulates its expression which induces apoptosis. Such a mode of PMAIP1 activation is not dependent on p53. Therefore, HSF1 not only can activate the expression of genes encoding cytoprotective heat shock proteins, which prevents apoptosis, but it can also positively regulate the proapoptotic PMAIP1 gene, which facilitates cell death. This could be the primary cause of hyperthermia-induced elimination of heat-sensitive cells, yet other pro-death mechanisms might also be involved.