Ubiquitin is a highly conserved, multifunctional protein, which is implicated in the heat-shock response of eukaryotes. The differential expression of the multiple ubiquitin genes in Dictyostelium discoideum was investigated under various stress conditions. Growing D. discoideum cells express four major ubiquitin transcripts of sizes varying from 0.6 to 1.9 kb. Upon heat shock three additional ubiquitin mRNAs of 0.9, 1.2 and 1.4 kb accumulate within 30 min. The same three transcripts are expressed in response to cold shock or cadmium treatment. Inhibition of protein synthesis by cycloheximide leads to a particularly strong accumulation of the larger ubiquitin transcripts, which code for polyubiquitins. Possible mechanisms regulating the expression of ubiquitin transcripts upon heat shock and other stresses are discussed.

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