Small heat shock protein (sHSP) is a family of ubiquitous polypeptides involved in a variety of physiological phenomena. From the silkworm, Bombyx mori, we isolated and sequenced the following cDNAs encoding sHSPs: shsp19.9, shsp20.1, shsp20.4, shsp20.8, shsp21.4, and shsp23.7. shsp21.4 was nearly twice as large in size as other shsps. The deduced amino acid sequence of sHSP21.4 was similar to that of Drosophila melanogaster CG14207-PA. Other sHSPs were highly similar to each other and, in a phylogenetic tree, formed a cluster including Plodia interpunctella αCP25. It was speculated that shsp21.4 has at least one intron in genome while other shsps do not. The transcripts of all shsps were subtle, but were constitutively detected in various tissues. Heat shock triggered a substantial increase in the transcripts other than shsp21.4. The B. mori sHSPs are perhaps classified into at least two groups: sHSP21.4 and others.
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