Lis Lab

Model of heat shock

Prior to heat shock activation, the Drosophila hsp70 gene has a transcriptionally-engaged, but paused, RNA polymerase II (Pol II). Upon heat shock, the activator (HSF) trimerizes and binds tightly to the promoter, dramatically stimulating transcription. This activation is rapid and sychronous, providing a way of tracking changes in the protein complement of the promoter and into the body of the transcription unit.

The Lis Lab develops and uses many strategies to probe the structure of promoters and genes and the regulation of their activities in living cells. Our model is the heat shock genes, a highly-regulated set of genes that are well-suited for the investigation of inducible mRNA production. We investigate the factors that participate in the heat shock gene induction response, determine when, where, and with whom the factors act during the process of gene activation, and evaluate the functional and structural consequences of rapid inactivation of these factors. The resulting information is critical in establishing molecular models for the various steps in the transcriptional activation of genes and coupled RNA processing events.