Ramanujan Hegde earned his MD and PhD from UCSF in 1999, completing his thesis work in the laboratory of Vishwanath Lingappa. He then started his own laboratory at the US National Institutes of Health, rising to the position of Senior Investigator. In 2011, Hegde moved to the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, where he is currently a Programme Leader. Research in the Hegde lab is focused on understanding the molecular basis of intracellular protein organization.
His group has made several contributions to dissecting the pathways of protein targeting and insertion at the endoplasmic reticulum, the quality control ubiquitylation pathways that monitor failures in protein maturation, and the cellular and organismal consequences of failed protein quality control. The Hegde lab discovered widely conserved pathways for the post-translational targeting and insertion of membrane proteins and made several contributions to their mechanistic dissection.
Exploiting recent advances in cryo-EM, his group has gained structural insights into the essential processes of mammalian protein translation, co-translational protein targeting, and protein translocation. In parallel with these studies on protein biosynthesis, Hegde’s lab has shown that protein targeting is prone to inefficiency, and that chronic protein mis-targeting can lead to neurodegeneration.
This led his group to investigate how mis-localized proteins are recognized and degraded, leading to their discovery of new protein quality control pathways controlled through ubiquitylation mechanisms. These and other studies have contributed to a deeper understanding of the biosynthetic and quality control pathways that maintain cellular protein homeostasis.
Hegde’s work has been recognized by several honours, including his election as a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and Fellow of the Royal Society.
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