ArHsp21, a developmentally regulated small heat-shock protein synthesized in diapausing embryos of Artemia franciscana

Zhijun Qiu, Thomas H. MacRae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Embryos of the crustacean, Artemia franciscana, undergo alternative developmental pathways, producing either larvae or encysted embryos (cysts). The cysts enter diapause, characterized by exceptionally high resistance to environmental stress, a condition thought to involve the sHSP (small heat-shock protein), p26. Subtractive hybridization has revealed another sHSP, termed ArHsp21, in diapause-destined Artemia embryos. ArHsp21 shares sequence similarity with p26 and sHSPs from other organisms, especially in the α-crystallin domain. ArHsp21 is the product of a single gene and its synthesis occurred exclusively in diapause-destined embryos. Specifically, ArHsp21 mRNA appeared 2 days post-fertilization, followed 1 day later by the protein, and then increased until embryo release at day 5. No ArHsp21 protein was detected in embryos developing directly into larvae, although there was a small amount of mRNA at 3 days post-fertilization. The protein was degraded during post-diapause development and had disappeared completely from second instar larvae. ArHsp21 formed large oligomers in encysted embryos and transformed bacteria. When purified from bacteria, ArHsp21 functioned as a molecular chaperone in vitro, preventing heat-induced aggregation of citrate synthase and reduction-driven denaturation of insulin. Sequence characteristics, synthesis patterns and functional properties demonstrate clearly that ArHsp21 is an sHSP able to chaperone other proteins and contribute to stress tolerance during diapause. As such, ArHsp21 would augment p26 chaperone activity and it may also possess novel activities that benefit Artemia embryos exposed to stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)605-611
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Artemia franciscana
  • Diapause
  • Molecular chaperone
  • Protein structure/function
  • Small heat-shock protein (sHSP)
  • Stress tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'ArHsp21, a developmentally regulated small heat-shock protein synthesized in diapausing embryos of Artemia franciscana'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this