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University of Richmond

Publication Date

Fall 12-1-2014

Program Name

Australia: Rainforest, Reef, and Cultural Ecology


The world’s largest carnivorous marsupial, the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), is facing extinction from a deadly, highly communicable cancer that has already decimated over 85% of devil populations in the wild: devil facial tumour disease (DFTD). DFTD cells effectively evade recognition by the immune system, and every devil that contracts the disease dies from it. Many attempts have been made at developing a vaccine that could help save this now-threatened species. Heat shock proteins have been linked to enhanced immune recognition of pathogens, making them potential candidates for acting as adjuvants to such a vaccine against DFTD. In this study, the effect of heat shocking DFTD cells on HSP expression was assessed. DFTD cells were heat shocked at 40oC for varying lengths of time, with the maximum being 24 hours. RNA expression was determined for HSP 27, HSP 60, HSP 70, and HSP 90, and relative protein expression was determined for HSP 70 and HSP 90. HSP 27 was shown to have significantly increased relative RNA expression after heat shocking when compared with untreated cells. Relative RNA expression for HSP 60 was not found to be significant even after heat shocking. Expression of HSP 70 increased significantly after being heat shocked for several hours. Accordingly, the relative RNA expression for HSP 70 increased with length of time of heat shocking. Finally, HSP 90 showed insignificant variation in protein expression when compared with untreated cells, even after heat shocking; the same was found to be true of its relative RNA expression. Heat shock proteins 27 and 70 show the most potential in being used to initiate an immune response against DFTD cells in devils.


Animal Sciences | Cancer Biology | Immunology and Infectious Disease | Immunoprophylaxis and Therapy | Other Animal Sciences | Other International and Area Studies | Zoology


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