Chaperone networks are dysregulated with aging, but whether compromised Hsp70/Hsp90 chaperone function disturbs neuronal resilience is unknown. Stress‐inducible phosphoprotein 1 (STI1; STIP1; HOP) is a co‐chaperone that simultaneously interacts with Hsp70 and Hsp90, but whose function in vivo remains poorly understood. We combined in‐depth analysis of chaperone genes in human datasets, analysis of a neuronal cell line lacking STI1 and of a mouse line with a hypomorphic Stip1 allele to investigate the requirement for STI1 in aging. Our experiments revealed that dysfunctional STI1 activity compromised Hsp70/Hsp90 chaperone network and neuronal resilience. The levels of a set of Hsp90 co‐chaperones and client proteins were selectively affected by reduced levels of STI1, suggesting that their stability depends on functional Hsp70/Hsp90 machinery. Analysis of human databases revealed a subset of co‐chaperones, including STI1, whose loss of function is incompatible with life in mammals, albeit they are not essential in yeast. Importantly, mice expressing a hypomorphic STI1 allele presented spontaneous age‐dependent hippocampal neurodegeneration and reduced hippocampal volume, with consequent spatial memory deficit. We suggest that impaired STI1 function compromises Hsp70/Hsp90 chaperone activity in mammals and can by itself cause age‐dependent hippocampal neurodegeneration in mice.
1. Introduce the advantages of using a hypomorphic allele mouse model to study the chaperone machinery in mice.
2. Learn about a protein that is a potential key player in neurodegeneration and aging.