Proteome plasticity in response to persistent environmental change

Mol Cell. 2021 Aug 19;81(16):3294-3309.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2021.06.028. Epub 2021 Jul 21.


Temperature is a variable component of the environment, and all organisms must deal with or adapt to temperature change. Acute temperature change activates cellular stress responses, resulting in refolding or removal of damaged proteins. However, how organisms adapt to long-term temperature change remains largely unexplored. Here we report that budding yeast responds to long-term high temperature challenge by switching from chaperone induction to reduction of temperature-sensitive proteins and re-localizing a portion of its proteome. Surprisingly, we also find that many proteins adopt an alternative conformation. Using Fet3p as an example, we find that the temperature-dependent conformational difference is accompanied by distinct thermostability, subcellular localization, and, importantly, cellular functions. We postulate that, in addition to the known mechanisms of adaptation, conformational plasticity allows some polypeptides to acquire new biophysical properties and functions when environmental change endures.

Keywords: Fet3; environmental stress; machine learning; moonlighting functions; protein conformation changes; thermal acclimation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization / genetics
  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal / genetics
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects
  • Proteome / genetics*
  • Saccharomycetales / genetics
  • Stress, Physiological / genetics*
  • Transcriptome / genetics*


  • Proteome