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Hsp70 is a multi-gene family composed of stress-inducible members (Hsp70) and other members that are constitutively expressed (Hsc70). The heat shock proteins Hsp70 and Hsc70 exhibit similar molecular structure and biochemical functions. Constitutively expressed Hsc70 is enriched in the mammalian nervous system compared with non-neural tissues and present at high levels in neuronal cell bodies. After thermal stress, Hsc70 is translocated to synapse-enriched areas of the cerebral cortex where it associates with Hsp40 to form a complex that can refold denaturated proteins. These results suggest that the heat shock response in the nervous system involves not only the synthesis of stress-inducible Hsps but also the translocation of constitutively expressed Hsc70 to synapse-enriched areas where it could participate in neuroprotective mechanisms that preserved synaptic function during times of stress. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.