A new Whitehead Institute study investigates the role a family of proteins called Sestrins plays in sensing the presence of the essential amino acid leucine, as well as adapting to its absence. The presence of Sestrin allows fruit flies to choose foods rich in leucine over foods without the nutrient.

When we take in energy as food or drink, a complex suite of chemical reactions allow us to turn it into usable fuel. The sum of these reactions, within each cell and throughout the body, makes up our metabolism. In this multimedia collection, learn how Whitehead Institute researchers are delving into the mechanisms behind metabolism from a variety of angles. Click here to explore the series!

Institute researchers continue to pioneer a deeper understanding of how metabolic processes contribute to health and disease – with long-term implications that could range from new treatments for obesity and type 2 diabetes to methods for slowing the aging process. Here are a few examples of Whitehead Institute scientists’ creative and pioneering work in the field of metabolism.

Whitehead Institute Member Jing-Ke Weng studies plant metabolism, the set of processes plants use to produce thousands of unique molecules, many of which have potent medicinal properties. The Weng lab is hunting for more of these molecules in the wild, and developing strategies to sustainably produce plant molecules already of interest at scale.

Learn about a molecule that can take the place of oxygen in the electron transport chain; a key protein that helps sea star embryos establish polarity early in development; and a new approach to cataloguing cells' many DNA repair mechanisms. Our latest research highlights video features work from the labs of Iain Cheeseman and Jonathan Weissman.