Phillips W. Robbins

Boston University


Election Year: 1982
Primary Section: 21, Biochemistry
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

For the last 35 years my research interests have concerned the genetic control of cell surface biochemistry. I started by exploring the changes in bacterial outer membrane lipopolysaccharide (of Salmonella) brought about by lysogenic bacteriophages. Subsequent work in mammalian systems examined alterations in cell surface proteins and glycolipids associated with oncogenic transformation. This led to the simultaneous discovery by our group and several other laboratories of the major cell surface protein, fibronectin. For the last ten years we have been using the powerful genetics available in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisciae) to study protein glycosylation, secretion, and cell wall assembly in this organism. Most of the genes responsible for the initial glycosylation events in the endoplasmic reticulum have been cloned and sequenced. We have also worked through the problem of assembly and localization of chitin, "animal cellulose," which is deposited as a ring that stabilizes the mother-bud junction in yeast as well as the septum which separates the two cells. Separate "chitin synthase" enzymes have been found to be responsible for chitin deposition in different areas of the cell in both yeast and fungi.

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