Heat shock transcription factor 32 co-opts the signal recognition particle to regulate protein homeostasis in E. coli. Academic Article uri icon


  • All cells must adapt to rapidly changing conditions. The heat shock response (HSR) is an intracellular signaling pathway that maintains proteostasis (protein folding homeostasis), a process critical for survival in all organisms exposed to heat stress or other conditions that alter the folding of the proteome. Yet despite decades of study, the circuitry described for responding to altered protein status in the best-studied bacterium, E. coli, does not faithfully recapitulate the range of cellular responses in response to this stress. Here, we report the discovery of the missing link. Surprisingly, we found that (32), the central transcription factor driving the HSR, must be localized to the membrane rather than dispersed in the cytoplasm as previously assumed. Genetic analyses indicate that (32) localization results from a protein targeting reaction facilitated by the signal recognition particle (SRP) and its receptor (SR), which together comprise a conserved protein targeting machine and mediate the cotranslational targeting of inner membrane proteins to the membrane. SRP interacts with (32) directly and transports it to the inner membrane. Our results show that (32) must be membrane-associated to be properly regulated in response to the protein folding status in the cell, explaining how the HSR integrates information from both the cytoplasm and bacterial cell membrane.

published proceedings

  • PLoS Biol

author list (cited authors)

  • Lim, B., Miyazaki, R., Neher, S., Siegele, D. A., Ito, K., Walter, P., ... Gross, C. A.

editor list (cited editors)

  • Horwich, A. L.

publication date

  • January 1, 2013 11:11 AM