Publication Details

San Gil, R., Berg, T. & Ecroyd, H. (2017). Using bicistronic constructs to evaluate the chaperone activities of heat shock proteins in cells. Scientific Reports, 7 (1), 2387-1-2387-12.


Heat shock proteins (Hsps) are molecular chaperones that prevent the aggregation of client proteins by facilitating their refolding, or trafficking them for degradation. The chaperone activities of Hsps are dependent on dynamic protein-protein interactions, including their oligomerisation into large multi-subunit complexes. Thus, tagging Hsps with fluorescent proteins can interfere with their chaperone activity. To overcome this limitation, we have exploited bicistronic constructs for the concurrent expression of a non-Tagged Hsp and fluorescent reporter from a single mRNA in cells. We used the Hsp-encoding bicistronic constructs in a cell-based model of protein aggregation, using a destabilised (mutant) form of firefly luciferase (mFluc) that forms inclusion bodies in cells. Expression of Hsp40, Hsp70, or Hsp40 and Hsp70 in cells expressing mFluc decreased the formation of inclusion bodies by 25-46% compared to controls. Moreover, there was a concentration-dependent decrease in the proportion of cells with inclusions when Hsp70, or Hsp40 and Hsp70 were co-expressed with mFluc in cells. The Hsp-encoding bicistronic constructs enable transfection efficiencies and concentration-dependent effects of Hsp expression to be determined using fluorescence based techniques, without the need to tag the Hsp with a fluorescent protein.

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