About the Taylor Lab

Biomolecular condensation is a process that concentrates specific molecules in time and space. Biomolecular condensation governs many aspects of cell biology, and disturbances in this process are implicated in a variety of diseases, most notably cancer and neurological disease. Our laboratory is focused on understanding how condensates form and organize, what functions they serve, and how they are corrupted by disease-relevant mutations. Deciphering condensate function provides notable opportunities to target these structures as a means of therapeutic intervention in several catastrophic diseases.

Science Team

Taylor Lab research summary

Our laboratory is focused on understanding how condensates are assembled, what functions they serve, and how their corruption contributes to disease. Condensates assemble through a network of individual interactions among their constituents. We hypothesize that network theory will help predict the contribution of individual constituents to condensate assembly and material properties, and will be useful for efforts to exert control over condensate dynamics and function. Specifically, we have advanced the network-encoded percolation threshold hypothesis, which postulates that each constituent within a condensate contributes to the overall driving forces toward condensation. Importantly, the forces driving condensation are distributed unevenly across the network, such that constituents with higher centrality within the network have greater influence than nodes with lower centrality. 

Digital image of artificial intelligence human brain

One facet of our research program focuses on RNA granules as prototypical biomolecular condensates to tease out generalizable principles about how condensation occurs within cells. For example, we are currently investigating the stress granule network by manipulating the expression of each node to see how each change influences the condensate’s overall properties. In addition, we are dissecting the central node within this network – a protein called G3BP1 – down to the atomic level to see how its interactions facilitate seeding the assembly and specific identity of the condensate.

Another area of research in our laboratory centers on the functions served by these biomolecular condensates. We are exploring the ways in which condensates may be promoting or limiting activities between reactants and how condensates may be important for buffering certain proteins in the non-condensed state. Specifically, we are examining the mechanisms underlying conditional sequestration and the regulation of RNA editing, and the regulation of neuronal translation by mRNA sequestration. 

Digital image of artificial intelligence human brain

We are also working to determine how disease mutations corrupt the biophysical properties and function of RNA granules. Our lab has discovered that multiple, distinct types of genetic mutations intersect upon the process of RNA granule condensation and function, giving rise to a common set of neurodegenerative diseases. Each of these types of genetic mutation increases the driving forces underlying condensation.

We employ a variety of methodologies and approaches in our laboratory, including fly and human genetics, proteomics, biophysics, cell biology, and structural biology. We also build tools and develop innovative approaches to help us answer research questions, including a novel strategy to chemically profile condensates and manipulate their properties with small molecules.

Taylor Lab selected publications

  

About J. Paul Taylor

Dr. J. Paul Taylor is a pioneer in the field of biomolecular phase transitions and their roles in both normal cell biology and disease. He currently serves as Chair of the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, HHMI Investigator, and Director of the Pediatric Translational Neuroscience Initiative. As a physician scientist with a background in neurogenetics, Dr. Taylor guides collaborative, interdisciplinary research teams with interests spanning biophysics, biochemistry and cell biology. He is the recipient of numerous distinguished awards, including the 2020 Normal Saunders International Research Prize and the 2020 Potamkin Prize.

J. Paul Taylor

The Taylor Lab team

Interdisciplinary team of scientists with a passion for asking collaborative, paradigm-shifting questions

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Lab Alumni

Nael Alami, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2010 - 2014
  • Post-lab experience: Provost, Modern University for Business and Science, Beirut, Lebanon

Nisha Badders, PhD

  • Role: Research Lab Specialist
  • Tenure: 2009 - 2016
  • Post-lab experience: Senior Scientific/Medical Editor, Mayo Clinic

Stephanie (Schwartz) Ciosek, MPH

  • Role: Lab Manager
  • Tenure: 2004 - 2008
  • Post-lab experience: Science Analyst, Office of Portfolio Analysis, NIH

Alison Clare, PhD

  • Role: Undergraduate student, University of Bath
  • Tenure: 2010 - 2011
  • Post-lab experience: Research Associate, University of Bristol, UK

Maura Coughlin

  • Role: Senior Research Technologist
  • Tenure: 2014 - 2021
  • Post-lab experience: Technology Transfer Associate, Addgene

Sara Custer, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2007 - 2010
  • Post-lab experience: Assistant Research Professor, Department of Dermatology, Indiana University

Victoria Dardov, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2019 - 2021
  • Post-lab experience: Scientific Director, Technome

Baochang Fan, PhD

  • Role: Research Lab Specialist
  • Tenure: 2016 - 2019
  • Post-lab experience: Senior Scientist II, Process Development, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Jake Guinto, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2006 - 2007
  • Post-lab experience: Insights Strategist, Veeva Systems

Youngdae Gwon, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2018 - 2022
  • Post-lab experience: Assistant Professor, Sungkyunkwan University, Korea

Jenny Higgs, MD, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2013
  • Post-lab experience: Consulting Physician, Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine, UK

Nam Chul Kim, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2011 - 2017
  • Post-lab experience: Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology, University of Minnesota

Regina Kolaitis, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2011 - 2017
  • Post-lab experience: Senior Project Leader, Liaison Office, St Jude Children's Research Hospital

Kyung-Ha Lee, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2014 - 2016
  • Post-lab experience: Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Biology, Pusan National University, Korea

Songqing Li, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2011 - 2014
  • Post-lab experience: Laboratory Director, IVFMD Texas

Isaac Lopez, MD, PhD

  • Role: St. Jude POE
  • Tenure: 2013
  • Post-lab experience: Hospitalist, The Alaska Hospitalist Group

Cecile Mathieu, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2017 - 2021
  • Post-lab experience: Scientist II, Faze Medicines

Brett McCray, MD, PhD

  • Role: Graduate student
  • Tenure: 2005 - 2009
  • Post-lab experience: Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins Medical School

Amandine Molliex, PhD

  • Role: Graduate student
  • Tenure: 2011 - 2016
  • Post-lab experience: Research Scientist, Synsight, Evry, France

Jennifer Moore

  • Role: Lab Supervisor
  • Tenure: 2008 - 2018
  • Post-lab experience: Scientist, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Haruko Nakamura, MD, PhD

  • Role: Medical fellow
  • Tenure: 2019 - 2022
  • Post-lab experience: Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology, Yokohama City University Hospital

Kevin O'Donovan

  • Role: Senior Researcher
  • Tenure: 2017 - 2022
  • Post-lab experience: Consultant, Guidehouse

Udai Pandey, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2004 - 2009
  • Post-lab experience: Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh

Maria Pennuto, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2008 - 2009
  • Post-lab experience: Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padova, Italy

Aaron Poole

  • Role: Research Technologist
  • Tenure: 2009 - 2014
  • Post-lab experience: Supervisor, Animal Services, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Maria Purice, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2017 - 2018
  • Post-lab experience: Postdoctoral fellow, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center

Emmanuelle Quemin, PhD

  • Role: Undergraduate researcher, Univ Paris VII
  • Tenure: 2011
  • Post-lab experience: Group Leader, Institute for Integrative Biology of the Cell, Paris, France

Mohona Sarkar, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2015 - 2018
  • Post-lab experience: Scientist, KBI Biopharma

Rebecca Smith, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2009 - 2013
  • Post-lab experience: Laboratory Director, Genetics Associates, Nashville TN

Peter Todd, MD, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2005 - 2008
  • Post-lab experience: Professor, Department of Neurology, University of Michigan

Emilie Tresse, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2009 - 2011
  • Post-lab experience: Assistant Professor, BriC, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Gillian (Ritson) Turnbull, PhD

  • Role: Graduate student
  • Tenure: 2005 - 2010
  • Post-lab experience: Clinical Project Manager, Hammersmith Medicines Research, London, UK.

Yasmine Valentin-Vega, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2011 - 2015
  • Post-lab experience: Director of Administration and Scientific Operations, St Jude Children's Research Hospital

Brett Winborn, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2008 - 2016
  • Post-lab experience: Patent Attorney, Sheridan Ross PC, Denver CO

Peiguo Yang, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2015 - 2018
  • Post-lab experience: Assistant Professor, Westlake University (Hangzhou, China)

Peipei Zhang, PhD

  • Role: Postdoctoral fellow
  • Tenure: 2014 - 2021
  • Post-lab experience: Assistant Professor, Peking University Health Science Center (Beijing, China)

Contact the Taylor Lab

J. Paul Taylor, MD, PhD

Cell and Molecular Biology
MS 340
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN, 38105-3678 USA
901-595-6047 jpaul.taylor@stjude.org
262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN, 38105-3678 USA
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