Professor, Molecular Biosciences; Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
Cancer Cell Biology
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Dr. Morimoto's laboratory investigates how the cellular environment that regulates the stability of the proteome responds to stress, disease, and aging. His laboratory has shown that misfolded proteins disrupt the global balance of protein folding quality control within a cell, resulting in the loss-of-function of diverse metastable proteins. This disruption of proteostasis also occurs during aging and consequently is a major contributor to age-associated diseases including cancer and metabolic diseases. The expression of misfolded and damaged proteins results in the aberrant expression of molecular chaperones and is coorelated with oncogenesis and cellular transformation. Drugs that affect the regulation of the heat shock response are therefore useful for both research into the molecular mechanisms of tumorigenesis and, potentially, in clinical applications. The Morimoto laboratory is searching for small molecule modifiers of chaperone function. Since many cancer-associated mutations cause alteration of the native folded conformation of an affected molecule, the understanding of cellular responses to the appearance of misfolded proteins is also important.