Dr. Christina King Smith

Professor and Chair, Department of Biology
Specialization: Cell biology
Office: Science Center 229
Alternate Office: Science Center 216
Phone: 610-660-1118
Fax: 610-660-1832
Email: csmith@sju.edu



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.

Professor and Chair, Department of Biology, Saint Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA

Courses Taught

Biology I: Cells, Biology II: Genetic and Evolutionary Biology, Advanced Cell Biology, Phage Genomics Laboratory, Graduate Seminar


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

Burnside, B., King-Smith, C. 2017.  Retinomotor Movements. In Reference Module in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology, Elsevier, 2017. ISBN 9780128093245

Pope, W.H. et al… Science Education Alliance Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science (SEA- PHAGES). 2015. Whole genome comparison of a large collection of mycobacteriophages reveals a continuum bacteriophage genetic diversity. eLIFE Apr 28;4:e06416. doi: 10.7554/eLife.06416.

(co-authors include SJU students who were in Phage Genomics laboratory, 2009 - 2013)

Cresawn, S.G., et al. Comparative genomics of cluster O mycobacteriophages. PLoS One. 2015 Mar 5;10(3):e0118725. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118725. eCollection 2015.

King-Smith, C., Vagnozzi, R.J.*, Fischer, N.E.*, Gannon, P.*, and Gunnam, M.** 2014. Orientation of actin filaments in teleost retinal pigment epithelial cells, and effect of the lectin, Concanavalin A, on melanosome motility. Visual Neuroscience 31:1-10.

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        

King-Smith, C.  2016.  “Melanosome motility in fish retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells”. In: Gavin, R. H. (Ed) Cytoskeleton: Methods and Protocols 3rd Edition, Methods in Molecular Biology . Vol 1365, Springer Science+Business Media New York. pp. 315-322.

Burnside, B. and C. King-Smith. 2010. Chapter 172: “Comparative Eye: Fish Retinomotor Movements”. In: (Dartt, D., Besharse, B., Dana, R., Batelle, B. Eds.), The Encyclopedia of the Eye. Elsevier. Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Burnside, B and C. King-Smith.  2008.  “Retinomotor Movements”. In:  (Squire, L. R., Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. Elsevier.  (online). http://www.elsevierdirect.com/brochures/ens/index.html

Grants and Awards

2014: Tenglemann Award for Research and Teaching, 2009: SJU Faculty Merit Award for Teaching, 2008-2014: Program Director, HHMI Undergraduate Science Education grant, awarded to the departments of Biology and Physics, 2008 - 2010: NSF Major Research Instrumentation grant. Role: Co-Principle Investigator, 2004-2005 NIH National Research Service Award Senior Fellowship, 2003: SJU Faculty Merit Award for Research, 2002-2005 NIH R15 Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA). Role: Principle Investigator


My research interests center on understanding mechanisms of intracellular transport in eukaryotic cells. As a model system, we use retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells from the eyes of fish. RPE cells line the back of the vertebrate eye and contain numerous melanin pigment granules (melanosomes). In fish, these granules undergo massive migrations throughout the cell, acting as a movable curtain to regulate light flux to the photoreceptors. RPE cells can be isolated from eyes of sunfish, dissociated, and cultured as single cells, and RPE pigment granule migration can be stimulated in vitro using chemical triggers. Both aggregation and dispersion of pigment granules in the long apical projections of isolated cells require an intact actin cytoskeleton. Our research is focused on understanding the signaling mechanisms that elicit pigment granule movement, and the role of actin dynamics and myosin motors in motile processes in the RPE.