Transcriptional activation of human heat shock protein (HSP) genes by heat shock or other stresses is regulated by the activation of a heat shock factor (HSF). Activated HSF posttranslationally acquires DNA-binding ability. We previously reported that quercetin and some other flavonoids inhibited the induction of HSPs in HeLa and COLO 320DM cells, derived from a human colon cancer, at the level of mRNA accumulation. In this study, we examined the effects of quercetin on the induction of HSP70 promoter-regulated chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) activity and on the binding of HSF to the heat shock element (HSE) by a gel mobility shift assay with extracts of COLO 320DM cells. Quercetin inhibited heat-induced CAT activity in COS-7 and COLO 320DM cells which were transfected with plasmids bearing the CAT gene under the control of the promoter region of the human HSP70 gene. Treatment with quercetin inhibited the binding of HSF to the HSE in whole-cell extracts activated in vivo by heat shock and in cytoplasmic extracts activated in vitro by elevated temperature or by urea. The binding of HSF activated in vitro by Nonidet P-40 was not suppressed by the addition of quercetin. The formation of the HSF-HSE complex was not inhibited when quercetin was added only during the binding reaction of HSF to the HSE after in vitro heat activation. Quercetin thus interacts with HSF and inhibits the induction of HSPs after heat shock through inhibition of HSF activation.
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