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Science 320 (5877): 811-814

Copyright © 2008 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Regulation of the Cellular Heat Shock Response in Caenorhabditis elegans by Thermosensory Neurons

Veena Prahlad, Tyler Cornelius, Richard I. Morimoto*

Abstract: Temperature pervasively affects all cellular processes. In response to a rapid increase in temperature, all cells undergo a heat shock response, an ancient and highly conserved program of stress-inducible gene expression, to reestablish cellular homeostasis. In isolated cells, the heat shock response is initiated by the presence of misfolded proteins and therefore thought to be cell-autonomous. In contrast, we show that within the metazoan Caenorhabditis elegans, the heat shock response of somatic cells is not cell-autonomous but rather depends on the thermosensory neuron, AFD, which senses ambient temperature and regulates temperature-dependent behavior. We propose a model whereby this loss of cell autonomy serves to integrate behavioral, metabolic, and stress-related responses to establish an organismal response to environmental change.

Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology, Rice Institute for Biomedical Research, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: r-morimoto{at}

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