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Microscope image of a B lymphocyte showing the location of the mitochondria in relation to the nucleus and plasma membrane

October 5, 2015

Hydrogen peroxide induces signals that link the mitochondrial respiratory chain to specific cellular pathway

Countering the prevailing theory that cellular hydrogen peroxide signaling is broad and non-specific, Whitehead Institute scientists have discovered that this reactive oxygen species (ROS) in fact triggers a distinct signal transduction cascade under control of the mitochondrial respiratory chain—the Syk pathway—that regulates transcription, translation, metabolism, and the cell cycle in diverse cell types. Hydrogen peroxide and other ROS mediate cellular responses in aging and myriad common chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and neurodegeneration. Understanding how these signals function may point to new therapy targets for these conditions.

September 24, 2015

New methodology tracks changes in DNA methylation in real time at single-cell resolution

Whitehead Institute researchers have developed a tool that allows scientists to monitor changes in DNA methylation over time in individual cells. Certain diseases, including cancer, cause changes in DNA methylation patterns, and the ability to document these alterations could aid in the development of novel therapies.

Diagram of RAB35's role in oncogenesis

September 3, 2015

New role for an old protein: Cancer causer

A protein known to play a role in transporting the molecular contents of normal cells into and out of various intracellular compartments can also turn such cells cancerous by stimulating a key growth-control pathway.

Diagram of cancer versus normal stem cells

September 3, 2015

Variations in cell programs control cancer and normal stem cells

In the breast, cancer stem cells and normal stem cells can arise from different cell types and tap into distinct yet related stem cell programs, according to Whitehead Institute researchers. The differences between these stem cell programs may be significant enough to be exploited by future therapeutics.

Slides of tagged cells

September 2, 2015

Cellular recycling complexes may hold key to chemotherapy resistance

Upsetting the balance between protein synthesis, misfolding, and degradation drives cancer and neurodegeneration. Recent cancer treatments take advantage of this knowledge with a class of drugs that block protein degradation, known as proteasome inhibitors. Widespread resistance to these drugs limits their success, but Whitehead researchers have discovered a potential Achilles heel in resistance. With such understandings researchers may be able to target malignancy broadly, and more effectively.

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