Mammalian cells constitutively express a cytosolic and nuclear form of heat shock protein (hsp) 70, referred to here as hsp 73. In response to heat shock or other metabolic insults, increased expression of another cytosolic and nuclear form of hsp 70, hsp 72, is observed. The constitutively expressed hsp 73, and stress-inducible hsp 72, are highly related proteins. Still unclear, however, is exactly why most eukaryotic cells, in contrast to prokaryotic cells, express a novel form of hsp 70 (i.e., hsp 72) after experiencing stress. To address this question, we prepared antibodies specific to either hsp 72 or hsp 73 and have compared a number of biological properties of the two proteins, both in vivo and in vitro. Using metabolic pulse-chase labeling and immunoprecipitation analysis, both the hsp 72 and hsp 73 specific antibodies were found to coprecipitate a significant number of newly synthesized proteins. Such interactions appeared transient and sensitive to ATP. Consequently, we suspect that both hsp 72 and hsp 73 function as molecular chaperones, interacting transiently with nascent polypeptides. During the course of these studies, we routinely observed that antibodies specific to hsp 73 resulted in the coprecipitation of hsp 72. Similarly, antibodies specific to hsp 72 were capable of coprecipitating hsp 73. Using a number of different approaches, we show that the constitutively expressed, pre-existing hsp 73 rapidly forms a stable complex with the newly synthesized stress inducible hsp 72. As is demonstrated by double-label indirect immunofluorescence, both proteins exhibit a coincident locale within the cell. Moreover, injection of antibodies specific to hsp 73 into living cells effectively blocks the ability of both hsp 73 and hsp 72 to redistribute from the cytoplasm into the nucleus and nucleolus after heat shock. These results are discussed as they relate to the possible structure and function of the constitutive (hsp 73) and highly stress inducible (hsp 72) forms of hsp 70, both within the normal cell as well as in the cell experiencing stress.

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