David Pincus Talks Proteins on Public Radio’s Science Friday

In two pap2012-Annual-Report-Pincusers published last month in the journal Nature, molecular biologists unveiled a map of the so-called proteome—a vast catalog of the location of the known proteins in the human body. Whitehead Fellow David Pincus recently appeared as a guest on the popular radio program Science Friday to discuss the proteome and the critical role protein folding plays in the pathology of such diseases as Alzheimer’s and cancer.

Pincus explained that to perform their intended functions within the body, proteins must fold into very specific shapes. Protein folding isn’t a spontaneous process, however. Proteins need an assist from helper proteins known as chaperones, which guide their target proteins into their proper forms. These chaperones malfunction in many diseases, including Alzheimer’s, in which misfolded proteins accumulate into toxic aggregates. Pincus also noted that cancer cells can hijack chaperones to fuel their increased metabolism, preventing the chaperones from carrying out their normal cellular duties.

To hear a recording of this episode of Science Friday, please click here.