In this study, we have employed whole-mount, in situ hybridization to study the spatial pattern of hsc70 and hsp70 mRNA accumulation in normal and heat shocked embryos during Xenopus laevis development. Our findings revealed that hsc70 mRNA was constitutively present in a global fashion throughout the embryo and was not heat inducible. Accumulation of hsp70 mRNA, however, was detected only in heat shocked embryos. Furthermore, hsp70 mRNA accumulation was enriched in a tissue-specific manner in X laevis tailbud embryos within 15 minutes of a 33°C heat shock. Abundant levels of heat shock–induced hsp70 mRNA were detected in the head region, including the lens placode, the cement gland, and in the somitic region and proctodeum. Preferential heat-induced accumulation of hsp70 mRNA was first detected at a heat shock temperature of 30°C. Placement of embryos at 22°C after a 1-hour, 33°C heat shock resulted in decreased hsp70 mRNA with time, but the message persisted in selected tissues, including the lens placode and somites. Treatment of tailbud embryos with either sodium arsenite or zinc chloride induced a tissue-specific enrichment of hsp70 mRNA in the lens placode and somitic region. These studies reveal the complex nature of the heat shock response in different embryonic tissues and suggest the presence of regulatory mechanisms that lead to a stressor-induced, tissue-specific enrichment of hsp70 mRNA.
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