Amy Gladfelter (Univ. of North Carolina)

Amy Gladfelter (Univ. of North Carolina)

Butler Seminar Series

Event Date/Location

April 24, 2019 -
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
Thomas Laboratory 003


  • Amy Gladfelter

    Associate Professor
    University of North Carolina

    Amy Gladfelter is a quantitative cell biologist and an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She is also affiliated with the Lineberger Cancer Center and a fellow of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA.   Prior to moving to UNC in 2016, Amy led a research group at Dartmouth where she was an Assistant and Associate Professor of Biology. She trained at Princeton University (AB) with Bonnie Bassler, Duke University (Ph.D.) with Danny Lew and UniBasel Biozentrum (post-doc) with Peter Philippsen before starting her independent career at Dartmouth in 2006.  She has been honored with the 2014 Graduate Mentoring Award from Dartmouth, the 2015 Mid-Career Award for Excellence in Research from the American Society of Cell Biology and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute faculty Scholar


Cytosol organization driven by RNA-based phase separation

A variety of cell structures assemble via liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) to form compartments without membranes in both the cytoplasm and nucleus. RNA is a central driver of LLPS, however it is not well understood how RNA-based liquid droplets establish and maintain individual identities. We have found that the specific secondary structure of mRNAs determines which RNAs co-assemble into the same droplets and which are segregated to distinct structures. We are examining how secondary structure and higher-order assemblies of mRNAs contribute to the physical properties of biomolecular condensates. Additionally, we have found that RNA-protein droplets influence the physical properties of the surrounding cytosol based on passive microrheology measurements of the cytosol. This raises the possibility that biomolecular condensates may not only influence the biochemistry within a droplet but also impact local crowding in nearby regions of the cytosol. The diverse array of RNA-rich liquid compartments coexisting in a single cell remains a fundamental challenge in understanding the cell biology of phase separation. The work presented here will address how molecular identity emerges in condensates within a shared cytosol and how cells regulate the size and position of RNA-based condensates.


Free and open to the university community and the public.


Elizabeth Gavis, Department of Molecular Biology