Tony Hunter, a professor in the Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory and director of the Salk Institute Cancer Center, studies how cells regulate their growth and division, and how mutations in genes that regulate growth lead to cancer. His lab has made significant contributions in the area of signal transduction, how signals that stimulate or rein in growth are routed within a cell.
In 1979, his lab discovered that phosphate can be attached to tyrosine residues in proteins. This seminal discovery opened the door to the study of tyrosine kinases and their role in signal transduction, and in cell growth and development, as well as to their role in cancer and other human diseases. This knowledge already has resulted in a new approach to cancer treatment.
His current efforts are aimed at elucidating how protein phosphorylation, ubiquitylation, and SUMOylation events are used to regulate cell proliferation, growth control, and cell cycle checkpoint activation in normal and cancer cells.