Daniel N. Hebert
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Massachusetts
Ph.D.: University of Massachusetts Medical Center Postdoctoral Training: Yale University School of Medicine
The focus of my laboratory is to understand the processes involved in the maturation and degradation of proteins that traverse the secretory pathway in the living cell. Protein maturation is a highly assisted process enlisting the help of many cellular factors. We are particularly interested in understanding the role of co-translational folding and modifications that occur in the endoplasmic reticulum, and the involvement of molecular chaperones in these processes. The cell also possesses a quality control system that helps to ensure that only properly folded and assembled proteins are generated. Proteins that are unable to reach their native conformation are targeted for destruction. As our knowledge of protein maturation and quality control increases, it has become clear that a number of common human genetic diseases involve protein maturation defects including cystic fibrosis, albinism, melanoma and heart disease. Current model proteins that our laboratory studies include: tyrosinase, the key protein in melanin synthesis or cellular pigmentation; and the flu viral glycoprotein, hemagglutinin. We employ a variety of cell biololgical, biochemical, and molecular biological approaches to study the maturation and degradation of membrane glycoproteins using cell-free asssays, isolated organelles and live cells.