Extracellular heat shock protein 70: A critical component for motoneuron survival

Mac B. Robinson, J. Lille Tidwell, Thomas Gould, Anna R. Taylor, Jason M. Newbern, Jason Graves, Michael Tytell, Carol E. Milligan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


The dependence of developing spinal motoneuron survival on a soluble factor(s) from their target, muscle tissue is well established both in vivo and in vitro. Considering this apparent dependence, we examined whether a specific component of the stress response mediates motoneuron survival in trophic factor-deprived environments. We demonstrate that, although endogenous expression of heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) did not change during trophic factor deprivation, application of e-rhHsp70 (exogenous recombinant human Hsp70) promoted motoneuron survival. Conversely, depletion of HSP70 from chick muscle extract (MEx) potently reduces the survival-promoting activity of MEx. Additionally, exogenous treatment with or spinal cord overexpression of Hsp70 enhances motoneuron survival in vivo during the period of naturally occurring cell death [programmed cell death (PCD)]. Hindlimb muscle cells and lumbar spinal astrocytes readily secrete HSP70 in vitro, suggesting potential physiological sources of extracellular Hsp70 for motoneurons. However, in contrast to exogenous treatment with or overexpression of Hsp70 in vivo, muscle-targeted injections of this factor in an ex vivo preparation fail to attenuate motoneuron PCD. These data (1) suggest that motoneuron survival requirements may extend beyond classical trophic factors to include HSP70, (2) indicate that the source of this factor is instrumental in determining its trophic function, and (3) may therefore influence therapeutic strategies designed to increase motoneuron Hsp70 signaling during disease or injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9735-9745
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number42
StatePublished - Oct 19 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell death
  • Hsp70
  • Motoneuron
  • Muscle extract
  • Stress response
  • Trophic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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