Research at Whitehead

Whitehead Institute provides researchers with the resources and freedom to follow their scientific instincts, form novel collaborations, and conduct high-risk research. While probing basic biological processes, the Institute’s 17 faculty Members and 2 Fellows develop innovative technologies and lay the foundation for projects that improve human health. They run pioneering programs in cancer, immunology, developmental biology, stem cell science, regenerative medicine, genetics, and genomics.




Research News

Model for the architecture of the CCAN

November 19, 2015

Architecture of protein complex hints at its foundational function in chromosome segregation

The Constitutive Centromere-Associated Network (CCAN) plays a foundational role in the machine that directs chromosome segregation during cell division. On the left is a model of the complete machine (the kinetochore) attached to the microtubule that provides the power for chromosome segregation. The right side depicts the direct interactions between CCAN sub-complexes based on Whitehead scientists’ research as viewed from above the CENP-A nucleosome, either occuring on a single nucleosome (top) or or between two nucleosomes (bottom).”

Diagram of the crystal structure of Cas9 in complex with guide RNA and its target DNA.

October 15, 2015

Screen of human genome reveals set of genes essential for cellular viability

Using two complementary analytical approaches, scientists at Whitehead Institute and Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have for the first time identified the universe of genes in the human genome essential for the survival and proliferation of human cell lines or cultured human cells. Their findings and the materials they developed in conducting the research will not only serve as invaluable resources for the global research community but should also have application in the discovery of drug-targetable genetic vulnerabilities in a variety of human cancers.

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

October 8, 2015

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

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.

Diagram of antiparallel beta-sheet structure of the enzyme catalase

October 8, 2015

Enhanced-sensitivity NMR could reveal clues on how proteins fold

Until now, it has been difficult to fully characterize the different structures that proteins can take on in their natural environments. However, using a new technique known as sensitivity-enhanced nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), Whitehead Institute and MIT researchers have shown that they can analyze the structure that a yeast protein forms as it interacts with other proteins in a cell.

Recent papers

November, 2015

Activator-inhibitor coupling between Rho signalling and actin assembly makes the cell cortex an excitable medium.

Nat Cell Biol. 2015 Nov;17(11):1471-83.

October 29, 2015

Transcription factor trapping by RNA in gene regulatory elements.

Science. 2015 Oct 29.

October 27, 2015

Tumor cell-derived periostin regulates cytokines that maintain breast cancer stem cells.

Mol Cancer Res. 2015 Oct 27.

All research papers

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