- Abiotic stress may result in protein denaturation. To confront protein inactivation, plants activate protective mechanisms that include chaperones and chaperone-like proteins, and low-molecular weight organic molecules, known as osmolytes or compatible solutes. If these protective processes fail, the irreversibly damaged proteins are targeted for degradation. Tomato ASR1 (SlASR1) is encoded by a plant-specific gene. Steady state levels of transcripts and protein are transiently induced by salt and water stress in an ABA-dependent manner. SlASR1 is localized in both the cytosol as unstructured monomers and in the nucleus as structured DNA-bound dimers. We show here that the unstructured form of SlASR1 has chaperone-like activity and can stabilize a number of proteins against denaturation caused by heat and freeze-thaw cycles. The protective activity of SlASR1 is synergistic with that of the osmolyte glycine-betaine, which accumulates under stress conditions. We suggest that the cytosolic pool of ASR1 protects proteins from denaturation.