We reported previously that a tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) promoter is able to confer heat shock response on a reporter gene after transient expression both in cell culture and in microinjected zebrafish embryos. Here we present the first functional analysis of a fish HSP70 promoter, the tiHSP70 promoter. Using transient expression experiments in carp EPC (epithelioma papulosum cyprini) cells and in microinjected zebrafish embryos, we show that a distal heat shock response element (HSE1) at approx. −800 is predominantly responsible for the heat shock response of the tiHSP70 promoter. This element specifically binds an inducible transcription factor, most probably heat shock factor, and a constitutive factor. The constitutive complex is not observed with the non-functional, proximal HSE3 sequence, suggesting that both factors are required for the heat shock response mediated by HSE1.

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