DnaJ chaperones contribute to canalization

Samantha Hughes, Inge Vrinds, Joris de Roo, Christof Francke, Sebastian M. Shimeld, Alison Woollard, Atsuko Sato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Canalization, an intrinsic robustness of development to external (environmental) or internal (genetic) perturbations, was first proposed over half a century ago. However, whether the robustness to environmental stress (environmental canalization [EC]) and to genetic variation (genetic canalization) are underpinned by the same molecular basis remains elusive. The recent discovery of the involvement of two endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated DnaJ genes in developmental buffering, orthologues of which are conserved across Metazoa, indicates that the role of ER-associated DnaJ genes might be conserved across the animal kingdom. To test this, we surveyed the ER-associated DnaJ chaperones in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. We then quantified the phenotype, in the form of variance and mean of seam cell counts, from RNA interference knockdown of DnaJs under three different temperatures. We find that seven out of eight ER-associated DnaJs are involved in either EC or microenvironmental canalization. Moreover, we also found two DnaJ genes not specifically associated with ER (DNAJC2/dnj-11 and DNAJA2/dnj-19) were involved in canalization. Protein expression pattern showed that these DnaJs are upregulated by heat stress, yet not all of them are expressed in the seam cells. Moreover, we found that most of the buffering DnaJs also control lifespan. We therefore concluded that a number of DnaJ chaperones, not limited to those associated with the ER, are involved in canalization as a part of the complex system that underlies development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-212
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological and Integrative Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar 1


  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • DnaJs
  • developmental robustness
  • lifespan
  • seam cell


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