Protein Form & Function

Proteins are the workhorses of the cell, a class of molecules with an astonishing breadth of functions. Whitehead Institute researchers are advancing our knowledge in protein biology, including how cells create and maintain specific proteins, and what happens when proteins go awry, in order to understand their functions in normal cellular processes and in disease.

A protein composed of green, brown and pink on a brown background.

Structure of the gator1 protein


Steven Lee/Whitehead Institute

Our Focus

Whitehead Institute researchers investigate the composition and physical structure of proteins in order to understand each protein’s functions, the other molecules it interacts with, and in some cases how to synthesize or modify the protein in the lab.

Image of structure of the raptor - rag - ragulator protein comples

Kacper Rogala/Whitehead Institute

The FLCN-FNIP-Rag-Ragulator complex

Kacper Rogala/Whitehead Institute

Schematic showing the electron density of the herpes-specific protein m48

Christian Schlieker

Major Achievements
Discovering genes behind multiple transport proteins

Member Harvey Lodish isolated genes for a glucose transport protein and fatty acid transport protein. 

Elucidating the mTOR pathway

Member David Sabatini discovered that Rag proteins control where mTOR sits in the cell and how it responds to nutrients, signaling the cell to grow.