Editors' ChoiceEVOLUTION

Exploiting Variation

Science Signaling  04 Jan 2011:
Vol. 4, Issue 154, pp. ec9
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.4154ec9

Molecular chaperones help newly synthesized proteins fold, protecting the macromolecular machinery of the cell from various stresses; for example, the highly conserved heat shock proteins (Hsps) protect against elevated temperature. Hsp90 has also been suggested both to buffer against and to potentiate existing genetic variation in a population. To investigate the generality of these claims, Jarosz and Lindquist screened 96 Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains from various ecological niches—soil, fruit, sake, beer, and infected humans—as well as assessed their adaptive value under different growth conditions. Hsp90 determined the adaptive value of ~20% of the genetic variation in baker's yeast, with half of the traits being buffered and half potentiated by Hsp90.

D. F. Jarosz, S. Lindquist, Hsp90 and environmental stress transform the adaptive value of natural genetic variation. Science 330, 1820–1824 (2010). [Abstract] [Full Text]