Accumulation of class I small heat shock proteins (sHSPs) is induced by the proline analog, azetidine-2-carboxylic acid (Aze) in soybean seedlings to a level similar to that induced by exposure to 40°C. However, only the treatment with 10 mM Aze for 6 h and subsequently with 10 mM proline for 24 h protected the seedlings from damage during subsequent exposure to 45°C as assessed by 2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride (TTC) staining. A chaperone activity assay showed that the purified class I sHSPs induced by Aze were functional in vitro and protected proteins from thermal denaturation. Amino acid composition analysis indicated that Aze was not incorporated into de novo synthesized class I sHSPs. Accumulation of class I sHSPs in the soluble post-ribosomal supernatant fraction was found to be important for acquisition of thermotolerance. We suggest that both the accumulation of class I sHSPs and their presence in the soluble fraction are important for establishment of thermotolerance.
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