Carolyn M. Phillips, Ph.D.

Title
Gabilan Assistant Professor
Department
Biological Sciences
Institution
University of Southern California
Address
1050 Childs Way
RRI 201
City, State, Zip
Los Angelees, CA 90089
Phone
(213) 740-2165
E-mail
cphil[at]usc.edu
Website
http://dornsife.usc.edu/labs/phillips
Research Field
Molecular Biology
Award Year
2017

Research

Our lab is investigating how and where the components of the RNA silencing pathways in cells are assembled—and whether this localization contributes to each pathway’s specificity. With its ability to target specific RNAs for destruction, RNA silencing is involved in many cellular processes, such as regulating genes and preventing the spread of parasitic genetic elements throughout the genome. As a postdoctoral fellow, I discovered a specialized compartment to which RNAs are routed for silencing. There, small RNAs are generated that match the RNAs to be silenced. These small RNAs are handed to proteins called Argonautes, which use them as guides to target additional RNAs to be eliminated. Now, using techniques in biochemistry, microscopy, and cell and molecular genetics, we will determine how Argonaute proteins are drawn to RNA-silencing compartments and how each Argonaute selects a specific small RNA. Because RNA silencing has been found to be impaired in a variety of disorders, including cancer and infertility, our findings could lead to improved therapeutics for these conditions.