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Although heat shock proteins (HSP) are well known to contribute to thermotolerance, they only play a supporting role in the phenomenon. Recently, it has been reported that heat sensitivity depends on heat-induced DNA double-strand breaks (DSB), and that thermotolerance also depends on the suppression of DSB formation. However the critical elements involved in thermotolerance have not yet been fully identified. Heat produces DSB and leads to cell death through denaturation and dysfunction of heat-labile repair proteins such as DNA polymerase-β (Polβ). Here the authors show that thermotolerance was partially suppressed in Polβ−/– mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) when compared to the wild-type MEF, and was also suppressed in the presence of the HSP inhibitor, KNK437, in both cell lines. Moreover, the authors found that heat-induced γH2AX was suppressed in the thermotolerant cells. These results suggest that Polβ at least contributes to thermotolerance through its reactivation and stimulation by Hsp27 and Hsp70. In addition, it appears possible that fewer DSB were formed after a challenging heat exposure because preheat-induced Hsp27 and Hsp70 can rescue or restore other, as yet unidentified, heat-labile proteins besides Polβ. The present novel findings provide strong evidence that Polβ functions as a critical element involved in thermotolerance and exerts an important role in heat-induced DSB. (Cancer Sci 2008; 99: 973–978)