Nuclear localization and the heat shock proteins

Anne A Knowlton, M. Salfity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The highly conserved heat shock proteins (HSP) belong to a subset of cellular proteins that localize to the nucleus. HSPs are atypical nuclear proteins in that they localize to the nucleus selectively, rather than invariably. Nuclear localization of HSPs is associated with cell stress and cell growth. This aspect of HSPs is highly conserved with nuclear localization occurring in response to a wide variety of cell stresses. Nuclear localization is likely important for at least some of the heat shock proteins' protective functions; little is known about the function of the heat shock proteins in the nucleus. Nuclear localization is signalled by the presence of a basic nuclear localization sequence (NLS) within a protein. Though most is known about HSP 72's nuclear localization, the NLS(s) has not been definitively identified for any of the heat shock proteins. Likely more is involved than presence of a NLS; since the heat shock proteins only localize to the nucleus under selective conditions, nuclear localization must be regulated. HSPs also function as chaperons of nuclear transport, facilitating the movement of other macromolecules across the nuclear membrane. The mechanisms involved in chaperoning of proteins by HSPs into the nucleus are still being identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-132
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biosciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • chaperon ischemia
  • heat shock
  • Heat shock proteins
  • nuclear localization signals
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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