Paul Whitley


  • 4 SOUTH 1.40


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Personal profile

Research interests

My lab is interested in endosomal sorting machineries and the cellular processes in which they are involved. Many eukaryotic cell surface proteins (such as growth factor receptors) are selectively removed from the plasma membrane by endocytosis and then either sorted into late endosomes/multivesicular bodies (MVBs) for degradation or recycled back to the plasma membrane. The fate of endocytic cargoes has implications for cell programming and can influence cellular processes such as the cell cycle, apoptosis, migration and cell fate determination. Defects in endocytic sorting have been linked to a variety of human diseases such as cancer and neurodegeneration.

Much of our research is concerned with the function of the ESCRT machinery which is primarily involved in the formation of MVBs and the selective destruction of membrane proteins. At least three endosomal sorting complexes required for transport (ESCRT-I, II and III) and various membrane lipids (PtdIns(3)P, PtdIns(3,5)P2 and LBPA) have been implicated in the biogenesis of MVBs. We found that one of the ESCRT-III components, charged multivesicular body protein 3 (CHMP3/Vps24) binds selectively to the phosphatidylinositol lipid PtdIns(3,5)P2 in vitro (Whitley et al 2003) and have an interest in the cellular function of this lipid (Dukes et al 2006, Whitley et al 2009). Recent work in the lab has focused on investigating the links between defects in endosomal sorting and cell polarity in mammalian cells. We have demonstrated that in mammalian epithelial cells that depletion of ESCRT proteins results in loss of epithelial sheet organisation and a multi-layered cell phenotype (Dukes et al 2011). As loss of cell polarity is one of the hallmarks of epithelial cancers we are currently investigating potential mechanisms behind the loss of polarity in ESCRT ‘mutant’ cells and other tumour suppressive properties of endosomal sorting proteins in mammalian epithelial cells.


  • PhD University of Edinburgh, 1991
  • Postdoctoral work at Stockholm University and Karolinska Institute, Sweden, 1991-1999
  • At University of Bath since January 1999
  • Lecturer in Cell Biology since September 2000
  • Senior lecturer since September 2011

Current Lab Members

  • Dr Joseph Dukes
  • Miss Laura Fish (Ph.D student)


Our research is supported by Cancer Research UK. PhD studentships in the laboratory are funded the BBSRC.

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Research Output

Transmembrane but not soluble helices fold inside the ribosome tunnel

Bañó-Polo, M., Baeza-Delgado, C., Tamborero, S., Hazel, A., Grau, B., Nilsson, I. M., Whitley, P., Gumbart, J. C., von Heijne, G. & Mingarro, I., 7 Dec 2018, In : Nature Communications. 9, 1, 5246.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
3 Citations (Scopus)

Cell surface dynamics and cellular distribution of endogenous FcRn

D'Hooghe, L., D Chalmers, A., Heywood, S. & Whitley, P., 17 Aug 2017, In : PLoS ONE. 12, 8, e0182695.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
  • 7 Citations (Scopus)

    Steady-State Kinetics of α-Synuclein Ferrireductase Activity Identifies the Catalytically Competent Species

    McDowall, J. S., Ntai, I., Hake, J., Whitley, P. R., Mason, J. M., Pudney, C. R. & Brown, D. R., 16 May 2017, In : Biochemistry. 56, 19, p. 2497–2505 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 11 Citations (Scopus)
    76 Downloads (Pure)

    Truncated RASSF7 promotes centrosomal defects and cell death

    Gulsen, T., Hadjicosti, I., Li, Y., Zhang, X., Whitley, P. R. & Chalmers, A. D., 15 Jan 2016, In : Developmental Biology. 409, 2, p. 502-517 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 2 Citations (Scopus)
    114 Downloads (Pure)

    CiteAb: A searchable antibody database that ranks antibodies by the number of times they have been cited

    Helsby, M. A., Leader, P. M., Fenn, J. R., Gulsen, T., Bryant, C., Doughton, G., Sharpe, B., Whitley, P., Caunt, C. J., James, K., Pope, A. D., Kelly, D. H. & Chalmers, A. D., 14 Feb 2014, In : BMC Cell Biology. 15, 1, p. 1-12 12 p., 6.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 15 Citations (Scopus)
    98 Downloads (Pure)


    Addressing factors limiting the process efficiency of Pichia pastoris for the production of recombinant proteins

    Author: Kendrick, E., 1 Sep 2016

    Supervisor: Leak, D. (Supervisor), Whitley, P. (Advisor) & Hodgson, I. (External person) (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


    GLUT4 extraction using poly(styrene-co-maleic acid): A test of functionality using biotinylated bis-glucose photoaffinity labelling.

    Author: Morrison, K., 12 Dec 2018

    Supervisor: Edler, K. (Supervisor), Whitley, P. (Supervisor), Price, G. J. (External person) (Supervisor) & Doutch, J. (External person) (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Masters ThesisMaster (MA)

    Identifying potential new stem cell biomarkers for prostate cancer

    Author: Alghezi, D., 19 Jun 2019

    Supervisor: Chalmers, A. (Supervisor), Whitley, P. (Supervisor), Beresford, M. (External person) (Advisor), Bowen, R. (External person) (Advisor) & Mitchard, J. (External person) (Advisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD

    Investigating the link between phosphoinositides, endosomal trafficking and ESCRT function

    Author: Dukes, J., 1 Feb 2008

    Supervisor: Whitley, P. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


    Linking tumour susceptibility ESCRT proteins and epithelial cell polarity

    Author: Fish, L., 30 Dec 2011

    Supervisor: Whitley, P. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD