John Pringle is a geneticist and cell biologist who has worked in yeast and other organisms on the mechanisms of cell-cycle control, cell polarization, and cytokinesis; his contributions include discoveries about the roles of small GTPases in cytoskeletal organization and of the septin proteins in cytokinesis, and his laboratory performed the first synthetic-lethal genetic screen. Recently, he has switched much of his effort to studies of cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis, a process critical to the growth of coral reefs. Pringle was born in Chicago and grew up in its suburbs, graduating from Evanston High School. He majored in mathematics at Harvard but became interested in population biology and began graduate school at Harvard in that area. However, first-year courses in genetics and cell biology inspired him to switch directions. After thesis work in yeast biochemistry, he switched to genetics and cell biology during postdoctoral studies at the University of Washington and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. He was on the faculties at the Universities of Michigan and North Carolina from 1975-2005 before moving to Stanford. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and of AAAS and has received lifetime-achievement awards in yeast genetics (Genetics Society of America) and cell biology (American Society for Cell Biology).

Research Interests

John Pringle's laboratory works in two distinct areas. First, the group continues its long-standing use of yeast and other genetically tractable model organisms to investigate fundamental problems in cell biology, notably the mechanisms of cell polarization and cytokinesis. Particular current foci are to further elucidate the roles of the septin proteins and the mechanisms by which yeast, algae such as Chlamydomonas, and indeed most of the world's phylogenetically diverse eukaryotic cells can form cleavage furrows during cytokinesis without a type-II myosin and hence without the actomyosin contractile ring that has long been believed to be responsible for this process. Second, most of the group now works on developing the small sea anemone Aiptasia as a model system for studies of the molecular and cell biology of dinoflagellate-cnidarian symbiosis, which is critical for the survival of reef-building corals and other animals but remains very poorly understood. Processes under investigation include the recognition and signaling events involved in symbiosis establishment, the mechanisms coordinating the activities of the symbiotic partners during stable symbiosis, and the signaling and cellular processes involved in symbiosis breakdown under stress. A particular effort is to develop the genomic resources and genetic methods that will underpin future studies.

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Primary Section

Section 26: Genetics

Secondary Section

Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology