Insights into function and regulation of small heat shock protein 25 (HSPB1) in a mouse model with targeted gene disruption

Lei Huang, Jin Na Min, Shane Masters, Nahid F. Mivechi, Demetrius Moskophidis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


The mammalian small heat shock protein (sHSPs) family is comprised of 10 members and includes HSPB1, which is proposed to play an essential role in cellular physiology, acting as a molecular chaperone to regulate diverse cellular processes. Whilst differential roles for sHSPs are suggested for specific tissues, the relative contribution of individual sHSP family members in cellular and organ physiology remains unclear. To address the function of HSPB1 in vivo and determine its tissue-specific expression during development and in the adult, we generated knockin mice where the coding sequence of hspb1 is replaced by a lacZ reporter gene. Hspb1 expression marks myogenic differentiation with specific expression first confined to developing cardiac muscles and the vascular system, and later in skeletal muscles with specific expression at advanced stages of myoblast differentiation. In the adult, hspb1 expression was observed in other tissues, such as stratified squamous epithelium of skin, oronasal cavity, tongue, esophagus, and uterine cervix but its expression was most prominent in the musculature. Interestingly, in cardiac muscle hsbp1 expression was down-regulated during the neonatal period and maintained to a relatively low steady-level throughout adulthood. Despite this widespread expression, hspb1-/- mice were viable and fertile with no apparent morphological abnormalities in tissues under physiological conditions. However, at the cellular level and under stress conditions (heat challenge), HSPB1 act synergistically with the stress-induced HSPA1 (HSP70) in thermotolerance development, protecting cells from apoptosis. Our data thus indicate a nonessential role for HSPB1 in embryonic development and for maintenance of tissues under physiological conditions, but also shows that it plays an important role by acting synergistically with other HSPs during stress conditions to exert cytoprotection and anti-apoptotic effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-501
Number of pages15
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Knockout mice
  • Muscle development
  • Small heat shock proteins
  • Thermotolerance
  • hspa1 (hsp70.1) and hspa1b (hsp70.3)
  • hspb1 (hsp25/27)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology


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