Krystal Johnson, PhD
Krystal joined David Corey’s Lab at UT Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW) to pursue her Ph.D. in 2018 after finishing her B.S. in Biochemistry at UT Austin. She was awarded a NIGMS F31 Diversity Fellowship for her proposed thesis work that aims to deepen our understanding of microRNA regulation in colon cancer model systems.
microRNAs are famous for carrying out sequence-specific silencing of complementary messenger RNAs through RNA interference in the cytoplasm, yet her thesis work expands this small RNA’s realm of regulation by exploring disease-relevant conditions where microRNAs and their protein machinery are driven into the nucleus. She has observed a striking nuclear enrichment of the essential RNA interference effector protein, Argonaute 2, in primary colon tumors compared to normal colon tissue from patients. This research can impact our understanding of intracellular regulation of microRNA action and therapeutic targets that contribute to colon cancer progression.