Tag: Protein Function

Scientists Find Protein at the Intersection of Genetics, Development and the Environment

May 13, 2002

Environmental stress can reveal hidden genetic variation in plants, resulting in novel traits that might provide an alternative to genetic modification of crops, researchers report in the journal Nature. They have linked this phenomenon to the actions of a particular molecule, the heat stress protein Hsp90. These findings place Hsp90 at the interface of environment and genetics and potentially provide an explanation for a long-standing evolutionary puzzle: how do large changes in form and function requiring the synchronous alteration of several features occur during evolution?

Scientists Find New Player in Cell Death Pathway

October 19, 2001

Research from Robert Weinberg’s lab at the Whitehead Institute has uncovered a much sought after piece of the puzzle of how cells use a protein called p53 to voluntarily die when the cell’s DNA is damaged. In fact, p53 is defective in 50% of human cancers allowing the cells to multiply despite DNA mutations.

Cate Lab Zooms in on the Structure of Protein Factories

March 29, 2001

Whitehead Associate Member Jamie Cate and his West Coast colleagues reported on an exciting image of the complete structure, including the moving parts, of an important molecule called the ribosome. This image zooms in on an intact ribosome—large protein factories found in all cells—at a higher resolution than scientists have ever viewed before.

Researchers Discover Weight-Loss Compound that Doesn’t Affect Food Intake

February 5, 2001

Researchers from the Whitehead Institute and Genset Corporation have found a new compound that controls weight gain in obese mice without affecting their food intake. The compound, called gAcrp30 and administered in daily low doses, caused profound and sustained weight loss in chubby mice eating a cafeteria diet—meals high in fat and sugar and available in unlimited quantities. Continuing the low daily doses allowed the mice to keep the weight off over a sustained period of time despite their fattening diet.

Scientists Discover Potent Protein that Prevents HIV Infection

January 11, 2001

In a promising advance in the war against AIDS, scientists have designed a potent, new protein that can prevent HIV infection by blocking its entry into human cells. The protein, called 5-Helix and designed to bind to a region in the HIV coat protein gp41, is able to prevent a wide range of HIV strains from fusing to the cell membrane and thereby infecting it.

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.

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