Christina King Smith, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair of Biology
Disciplines Taught: Biology, Chemical Biology
Office: Science Center 222
Phone: 610-660-1118
Fax: 610-660-1832



B.S. (1982) in Biology, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA

M.S.(1985) in Marine Studies, University of Delaware

Ph.D. (1992) in Biological Sciences, University of Maryland, Baltimore Count

Professional Experience

Post-Doctoral Fellow (1992 - 1995), Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California at Berkley.

Assistant (1996 - 2002) and Associate (2002 - present) Professor, Assistant Chair and Advising Coordinator (2005 - present), Department of Biology, Saint Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA.

Courses Taught

Biology I: Cells Biology II: Genetic and Evolutionary Biology Advanced Cell Biology Graduate Seminar


(*indicates undergraduate students; **indicates masters students)

Barsoum, I.B**. and C. King-Smith.  2007.  Myosin II and rho kinase are required for melanosome aggregation in fish retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. Cell Motility  and the Cytoskeleton 64:868-879.

McNeil, E.L*, D. Tacelosky*, P. Basciano*, B. Biallas**, R. Williams*, P. Damiani*, S. Deacon*, C. Fox*, B. Stewart*, N. Petruzzi*, C. Osborn*, K. Klinger*, J.R. Sellers, and C. King-Smith.  2004.  Actin-dependent motility of melanosomes from fish retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells investigated using in vitro motility assays.  Cell Motility and the Cytoskeleton  58:71-82.

Basciano, P.A.* and C. King-Smith.  2002.  Actin-dependent, retrograde motility of surface-attached beads and aggregating pigment granules in dissociated teleost retinal pigment epithelial cells.  Pigment Cell Research 15:162-173.

King-Smith, C., P. Basciano*, N. Pham*.  2001.  Effect of the actin stabilizing drug, jasplakinolide, on pigment granule motility in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of green sunfish, Lepomis cyanellus.  Pigment  Cell Research 14:14-22.

King-Smith, C., P. Paz**, C. W. Lee*, W. Lam*, and B. Burnside.  1997.  Bi-directional pigment granule migration in isolated retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells requires actin but not microtubules.  Cell Motility and the Cytoskeleton 38:229-249.

King-Smith, C. and T. W. Cronin.  1996.  Pigment granule migration in crustacean photoreceptors requires calcium.  Visual Neuroscience 13:43-49.


Book Chapters        

Burnside, B. and C. King-Smith.  Chapter 172:  “Comparative Eye:  Fish Retinomotor Movements”.  In: (Batelle, B. Ed.),  The Encyclopedia of the Eye.  Elsevier, (in press).

King-Smith, C.  2009.  “Melanosome motility in fish retinal pigment epithelial cells”. In: The Cytoskeleton:  2nd Edition, Methods in Molecular Biology . Vol 586, Humana Press, pp.275-281.

Burnside, B and C. King-Smith.  2008.  “Retinomotor Movements”. In:  (Squire, L. R., Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. Elsevier.  (online).


The cytoskeleton and cell motility, especially actin dependent organelle transport and actin/myosin dynamics in lamellipodia

Research in my laboratory is directed in two major areas:  1) understanding mechanisms of actin- dependent organelle motility, and 2) investigating the role of myosin 1 isoforms in lamellipodial dynamics.  For organelle motility studies, we use retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells from fish.  These cells are found at the back of vertebrate eyes, and contain numerous pigment granules (melanosomes) that undergo mass migrations in reponse to light.  RPE cells can be isolated from eyes of sunfish, dissociated, and cultured as single cells.  Melanosome movement can be stimulated in vitro.  Both aggregation and dispersion of melanosomes in the long apical projections of isolated cells requires an intact actin cytoskeleton.  Our research is focused on understanding the role of actin dynamics and myosin motors in pigment granule movement.

The second research focus is to investigate role of the unconventional myosin, myosin 1e in lamellipodia of mammalian cells.  Working with Dr. David Zuzga (Teaching Postdoctoral Fellow), we are using molecular and cell biological techniques to characterize  the role of myosin 1e in lamellipodial  dynamics in B16F1 mouse melanoma cells. 

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