This report describes the involvement of 70-kD heat-shock proteins (hsp70) in the import of proteins into mammalian peroxisomes. Employing a microinjection-based assay (Walton, P. A., S. J. Gould, J. R. Feramisco, and S. Subramani. 1992. Mol. Cell Biol. 12:531-541), we demonstrate that proteins of the hsp70 family were associated with proteins being imported into the peroxisomal matrix. Import of peroxisomal proteins could be inhibited by coinjection of antibodies directed against the constitutive hsp70 proteins (hsp73). In a permeabilized-cell assay (Wendland and Subramani. 1993. J. Cell Biol. 120:675-685), antibodies directed against hsp70 proteins were shown to inhibit peroxisomal protein import. Inhibition could be overcome by the addition of exogenous hsp70 proteins. Purified rat liver peroxisomes were shown to have associated hsp70 proteins. The amount of associated hsp70 was increased under conditions of peroxisomal proliferation. Furthermore, proteinase protection assays indicated that the hsp70 molecules were located on the outside of the peroxisomal membrane. Finally, the process of heat-shocking cells resulted in a considerable delay in the import of peroxisomal proteins. Taken together, these results indicate that heat-shock proteins of the cytoplasmic hsp70 family are involved in the import of peroxisomal proteins.

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