Regulatory differences in the stress response of hippocampal neurons and glial cells after heat shock

Charles J. Marcuccilli, Sameer K. Mathur, Richard I. Morimoto, Richard J. Miller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


During periods of stress, cells depend on a transient, highly conserved, and regulated response to maintain homeostasis. This 'heat shock response' is mediated transcriptionally by a multigene family of heat shock factors (HSF). The presence of multiple HSF suggests that activation of a given HSF is stress-specific. Using Western blot analysis, we have demonstrated the inability of primary cultured rat hippocampal neurons to induce a heat shock response after hyperthermia. In contrast, secondary cultured rat glial cells demonstrated a robust response. Examination of whole-cell extracts from the two cell types with gel shift mobility analysis and Western blot analysis revealed that although glial cells express HSF1 and HSF2, hippocampal neurons only express HSF2. Incubation of whole-cell extracts with monoclonal antisera raised against HSF1 and HSF2 before gel shift mobility analysis demonstrated HSF1 DNA-binding activity in glial cells and HSF2 DNA-binding activity in neurons. HSF1 has been shown to be the principal mediator of heat-induced heat shock gene expression. These results suggest that the deficient heat shock response of hippocampal neurons at this developmental stage is attributable to a lack of HSF1 expression. Furthermore, these results suggest that considerations of selective neuronal vulnerability to environmental stress should include the principal mediators of the stress response, the HSF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)478-485
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 1996


  • HSF
  • HSP70
  • glia
  • heat shock
  • hippocampus
  • selective vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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