Tag: Protein Function

Recombinant Protein May Play Key Role in Treating Immunocompromised Patients

January 17, 2000

In a promising new advance in vaccine development, scientists have identified a protein fragment that is exceptionally potent in eliciting an immune response against infected cells and cancer cells. When scientists injected a vaccine containing this fragment into mice lacking a healthy immune system, the animals were able to mount a cellular immune response despite their compromised immune system.

Scientists Discover Protein that May Provide a New Target for Obesity Therapy

September 23, 1999

Scientists at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. have identified a protein in the small intestine that plays a key role in the uptake of dietary fat into the body. The scientists report in the September 24 issue of Molecular Cell that the protein, called fatty acid transporter protein-4 (FATP4), may constitute a novel target for anti-obesity therapy in humans.

Image: Arabidopsis plants showing effect of a gene called EIR1 (Ethylene Insensitive Root 1) on root development

Putting Down Your Roots: How Plants Know How to Do It

July 15, 1998

The next time you pick up a bag of weed killer from The Home Depot, think about this: a chemical company probably spent years of testing and millions of dollars to develop an effective herbicide that is harmful to weeds but safe for you, your children, and your pets. Now a new study of root growth in a tiny weed called Arabidopsis thaliana suggests that genetics could help scientists save valuable time and money in developing better herbicides for the future.

First Images of Key Viral Protein Could Lead to New Strategies for Human Gene Therapy

September 12, 1997

New images of an L-shaped molecule on the surface of a mouse leukemia virus could help scientists realize the promise of human gene therapy—the effort to cure disease by inserting genes directly into human cells. The images, published in the September 12 issue of Science, show the crystal structure of a piece of the virus's envelope protein—the piece required to recognize and bind to receptors on the surface of a mammalian cell.

Whitehead Structural Biologists Discover Vulnerable Region in HIV Envelope Protein

April 18, 1997

For the first time scientists have a high-resolution picture of the protein fragment that enables HIV (the AIDS virus) to invade human cells—work that has immediate implications for new drug design. In the April 18 issue of Cell magazine, Dr. Peter S. Kim and his colleagues at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute present the crystal structure of a key fragment of the HIV envelope protein.

New Strategy for Combating Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

April 10, 1997

Using a method of surveying an entire mammalian genome, scientists have discovered that an immune system protein may play a previously unsuspected role in quelling the spread of tuberculosis infection. The finding has implications for devising new therapies for tuberculosis (TB), especially for the drug resistant strains that now affect some 50 million people world wide. The study, reported in the June 10 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by Dr. Richard Young at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. "We believe this is the first time that scientists have used a survey of the entire genome to identify genes turned on by infectious agents. We suspect that this method (strategy) will become a powerful new weapon in the war against other microbes, including HIV," says Dr. Young.

Protein Folding and Calcium Binding Defects Account for Errors in Familial Hypercholesterolemia

August 28, 1996

Familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic disease characterized by high levels of cholesterol and early mortality, is caused by defects in the receptor for the low-density lipoprotein (LDL)—the bad cholesterol. Now, Boston area scientists have found that this occurs because mutations in the LDL receptor prevent the protein from folding into its normal shape. This in turn impedes the receptor's ability to bind bad cholesterol and remove it from the bloodstream, causing the hypercholesterolemia.

Clever Approach May Provide New Clues to Drug Design

March 28, 1996

Circumventing a long-standing problem in drug design, scientists have developed a novel way to identify a new class of protein building blocks that could serve as valuable leads for drug development. The new method, called mirror-image phage display, represents an important advance in the rapidly growing field of drug-design. It will also offer new insights into the structure and function of important proteins.

Glue-Like Protein Provides New Key to Understanding Common Birth Defects

October 20, 1995

Scientists at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research have discovered a glue-like protein in fruit flies that ensures proper partitioning of hereditary material and could shed new light on the origin of some of the most common human birth defects, including Down syndrome. Dr. Terry Orr-Weaver and her colleagues describe the new protein, called MEI-S332, and its role in sexual reproduction in the October 20 issue of Cell.

Knockout Mouse Model Suggests New Directions for Treating Human Breast Cancer

August 25, 1995

Scientists have created a new strain of mice lacking cyclin D1, a vital component of the growth machinery in all cells, and found that knocking out this important cog causes surprisingly little damage. These results have implications for treating human breast cancer and should lead to a better understanding of the molecular basis of cancer. The study, reported in the August 25 issue of Cell, was carried out in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Weinberg, a cancer research pioneer at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

Whitehead Scientist Identify the Single Protein Responsible for Bacterial "Comet Tails" To Infect Cells

July 3, 1995

Scientists at the Whitehead Institute and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine have shown that a single surface protein called IscA is all that the bacteria Shigella flexneri needs to propel itself inside and among host cells-a characteristic that enables the organism to infect human colon cells and cause diarrhea. Eschericha coli, when engineered to express the Shigella protein, acquire the same ability to move inside and among frog egg cells. The finding has implications for understanding cancer, building vaccine delivery systems, and finding new ways to combat bacterial resistance. The results are reported in the July 3 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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