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Oversight of membrane proteins by the rhomboid-like superfamily: from molecules to medicine

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Matthew Freeman is the Head of the Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford. His group studies the cell biology of membrane proteins, with a particular focus on the rhomboid-like superfamily of proteases and pseudoproteases, which they discovered. Although primarily driven by fundamental discovery, his work has the goal of revealing principles relevant to human disease. Recently, this has included insights into inflammation, immunity and cancer. He is the winner of the EMBO Gold Medal (2001), the Hooke Medal of the British Society for Cell Biology (2003), and the Novartis Prize and Medal (2015). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, and the Academy of Medical Sciences. He was elected as EMBO Council Chair (2023).


Cellular membranes are important biological interfaces. Not only do they compartmentalise cells from the environment and organelles from each other, but they also act as signalling platforms. Accordingly, membrane proteins, which include for example receptors, ligands, cytokines, growth factors, transporters, enzymes and adhesion proteins, have cardinal roles in signalling between cells. In fact, 30% of the human proteome are membrane proteins and they are also the target of many important drugs.

The rhomboid-like superfamily, which comprises the rhomboid intramembrane serine proteases and their pseudoprotease cousins, are relatively recently discovered, and they control many important biological processes by regulating other membrane proteins. These proteins can release membrane tethered signalling domains, maintain homeostasis and quality control, and in direct trafficking. The range of rhomboid-like functions is becoming so wide that that can be seen as multifunctional overseers of the membrane proteome.

He will discuss both his latest work on rhomboid-like proteins, as well as the themes that are emerging about their mechanisms and role in disease.

Date: 3rd February, 2023 | 2:30 PM

Venue: Dr Reddy’s Auditorium, Ashoka University

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