Temperature pervasively affects all cellular processes. In response to a rapid increase in temperature, all cells undergo a heat shock response, an ancient and highly conserved program of stress-inducible gene expression, to reestablish cellular homeostasis. In isolated cells, the heat shock response is initiated by the presence of misfolded proteins and therefore thought to be cell-autonomous. In contrast, we show that within the metazoan Caenorhabditis elegans, the heat shock response of somatic cells is not cell-autonomous but rather depends on the thermosensory neuron, AFD, which senses ambient temperature and regulates temperature-dependent behavior. We propose a model whereby this loss of cell autonomy serves to integrate behavioral, metabolic, and stress-related responses to establish an organismal response to environmental change.
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