The molecular chaperone Hsp70 from the thermotolerant Diptera species differs from the Drosophila paralog in its thermostability and higher refolding capacity at extreme temperatures.
Previously, we demonstrated that species of the Stratiomyidae family exhibit higher tolerance to thermal stress in comparison with that of many representatives of Diptera, including Drosophila species. We hypothesized that species of this group inherited the specific structures of their chaperones from an ancestor of the Stratiomyidae family, and this enabled the descendants to colonize various extreme habitats. To explore this possibility, we cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli copies of the Hsp70 genes from Stratiomys singularior, a typical eurythermal species, and Drosophila melanogaster, for comparison. To investigate the thermal sensitivity of the chaperone function of the inducible 70-kDa heat shock proteins from these species, we used an in vitro refolding luciferase assay. We demonstrated that under conditions of elevated temperature, S. singularior Hsp70 exhibited higher reactivation activity in comparison with D. melanogaster Hsp70 and even human Hsp70. Similarly, S. singularior Hsp70 was significantly more thermostable and showed in vitro refolding activity after preheatment at higher temperatures than D. melanogaster paralog. Thermally induced unfolding experiments using differential scanning calorimetry indicated that Hsp70 from both Diptera species is formed by two domains with different thermal stabilities and that the ATP-binding domain of S. singularior is stable at temperatures 4 degrees higher than that of the D. melanogaster paralog. To the best of our knowledge, this study represents the first report that provides direct experimental data indicating that the evolutionary history of a species may result in adaptive changes in the structures of chaperones to enable them to elicit protective functions at extreme environments.