Tag: Metabolism

Image of zebrafish

Genetic body/brain connection identified in genomic region linked to autism

October 6, 2017

For the first time, Whitehead Institute scientists have documented a direct link between deletions in two genes—fam57ba and doc2a—in zebrafish and certain brain and body traits, such as seizures, hyperactivity, large head size, and increased fat content. Both genes reside in the 16p11.2 region of the genome, which has been linked to multiple brain and body disorders in humans, including autism spectrum disorder, developmental delays, seizures, and obesity.

Growth medium based on human plasma rewires cell metabolism

April 6, 2017

Cultured human cells are the foundation for disease and drug research. Now Whitehead Institute researchers have designed a growth medium that more closely resembles the cells’ environment in the body—and demonstrated that, relative to decades-old recipes that have remained the workhorses of cell culture studies, it significantly alters the cells’ inner workings.

Whitehead Member David Sabatini

Whitehead Member David Sabatini awarded Foundation for the NIH Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences

April 4, 2017

Prize bestowed for discovery of the mTOR pathway’s impact on age-related diseases

New Clues on the Basis of Parkinson’s Disease and Other “Synucleinopathies”

January 25, 2017

Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other “synucleinopathies” are known to be linked to the misfolding of alpha-synuclein protein in neurons. Less clear is how this misfolding relates to the growing number of genes implicated in PD through analysis of human genetics. Two new studies from researchers affiliated with Whitehead Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology explain how they used a suite of novel biological and computational methods to shed light on the question.

Cartoon of CASTOR1's role in mTORC1 regulation

Scientists identify sensor that modulates key metabolic pathway

March 10, 2016

Whitehead Institute researchers have elucidated how the growth-regulating metabolic pathway known as mTORC1 (for mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1) senses the amino acid arginine. This nutrient sensor may represent a novel therapeutic target for controlling mTORC1, whose activity is often dysregulated in a variety of diseases, including diabetes and cancer. 

Schematic showing how amino acid inputs control the activity of the growth-regulating mTORC1 pathway

Scientists discover essential amino acid sensor in key growth-regulating metabolic pathway

October 8, 2015

Whitehead Institute scientists have at last answered the long-standing question of how the growth-regulating pathway known as mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) detects the presence of the amino acid leucine—itself a key player in modulating muscle growth, appetite, and insulin secretion.

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

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

October 5, 2015

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.

Whitehead Member Jing-Ke Weng

Whitehead Member Jing-Ke Weng named a Searle Scholar

April 14, 2015

Whitehead Institute Member Jing-Ke Weng is among 15 young scientists nationwide to be named a 2015 Searle Scholar.

Image of brain samples showing gene activity in ischemic areas

Biologists identify brain tumor weakness

April 8, 2015

Biologists at Whitehead Institute and MIT have discovered a vulnerability of brain cancer cells that could be exploited to develop more-effective drugs against brain tumors.

Transmembrane protein SLC38A9 appears to act as a nutrients sensor for the mTORC1 metabolic pathway

Scientists identify first nutrient sensor in key growth-regulating metabolic pathway

January 7, 2015

Scientists in the lab of Whitehead Institute Member David Sabatini have for the first time identified a protein that appears to be a nutrient sensor for the key growth-regulating mTORC1 metabolic pathway. 

Thwarting protein production slows cancer cells’ malignant march

July 18, 2013

Protein production or translation is tightly coupled to a highly conserved stress response—the heat shock response and its primary regulator, heat shock factor 1 (HSF1)—that cancer cells rely on for survival and proliferation, according to Whitehead Institute researchers. In mouse models of cancer, therapeutic inhibition of translation interrupts HSF1’s activity, dramatically slowing tumor growth and potentially rendering drug-resistant tumors responsive to other therapies.

Model for a function for Mot3 prion switching in teh repiro-fermentative cycle of wine yeasts

Protective prion keeps yeast cells from going it alone

March 28, 2013

A team of scientists from Whitehead Institute and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center has added markedly to the job description of prions as agents of change, identifying a prion capable of triggering a transition in yeast from its conventional single-celled form to a cooperative, multicellular structure. This change, which appears to improve yeast’s chances for survival in the face of hostile environmental conditions, is an epigenetic phenomenon—a heritable alteration brought about without any change to the organism’s underlying genome.

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