Professor Carl Smythe

School of Biosciences

Professor of Cell Biology

Director of the Mass Spectrometry Centre

Carl S.
Profile picture of Carl S.
+44 114 222 4643

Full contact details

Professor Carl Smythe
School of Biosciences
E03a Florey Building
Firth Court
Western Bank
S10 2TN
  • 2002 – present: Professor of Cell Biology, School of Biosciences, University of Sheffield
  • 2004 – 2006: Head of Department, Department of Biomedical Science, University of Sheffield
  • 1992 – 2002: Principal Investigator at MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit, University of Dundee
  • 1989 – 1992: American Cancer Society Senior Research Fellow, University of California, San Diego
  • 1985 – 1989: British Diabetic Association postdoctoral research assistant at MRC Protein Phosphorylation Group at University of Dundee
  • 1981 – 1985: PhD Department of Biochemistry, Trinity College, University of Dublin
Research interests

Chromosome integrity

Chromosomes in eukaryotes control their environment to ensure that genomic integrity is maximised. We are interested in understanding mechanisms of genomic integrity operating at the molecular and cellular level, and determining the consequences when they fail.

Cellular surveillance systems and their role in healthy aging

Research in our laboratory uses molecular cell biology approaches to understand quality control or surveillance mechanisms that operate in cells to ensure fidelity of function, the consequences when they fail, and how they may be exploited to ameliorate disease.

Examples include the replication checkpoint, which operates to ensure that cells experiencing replication stress, can evoke appropriate DNA damage responses, reschedule cell cycle events, or initiate apoptosis, and quality control systems regulating processes involving RNA homeostasis, such as nonsense-mediated decay (NMD), histone mRNA decay (HD), and telomere stability.

We utilise a variety of disease cell models in mechanistic studies and utilise whole genome and new chemical entity (NCE) screening together with mass spectrometry and imaging techniques, coupled with in vitro assays, to synergistically probe both biological and NCE function.

Our chemical biology work focuses on exploring the use of ruthenium co-ordination complexes to explore novel chemical space affecting pathways of interest, as well as novel indole polycyclic derivatives that block NMD.

Our focus is to identify potential new therapeutic targets in relevant disease models, and our work on the replication checkpoint has identified a number of proteins and /or pathways which are of interest.

Future directions

A key focus concerns the functional characterisation of the DNA /RNA helicase Upf1 which acts pleiotropically to regulate NMD, HD and telomere integrity. We have identified a novel NMD inhibitor which, importantly, does not affect histone mRNA regulation or telomere integrity.

We aim to utilise our expertise in genomic integrity and mass spectrometry to identify the target of this inhibitor as a potential therapeutic strategy for the treatment of nonsense mutation-associated disease.


Show: Featured publications All publications

Journal articles

All publications

Journal articles


Conference proceedings papers

  • Panomwan P & Smythe C (2015) Analysis of the Mechanism of DNA Damage and Replication Arrest-induced Histone mRNA DecayPornpen Panomwan*and Carl Smythe. FASEB JOURNAL, Vol. 29 RIS download Bibtex download
  • Panomwan P & Smythe C (2014) Analysis of the mechanism of DNA damage and replication arrest-induced histone mRNA decay. FEBS JOURNAL, Vol. 281 (pp 65-65) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Gill MR, Thomas JA & Smythe C (2011) Ruthenium(II) polypyridyl complexes: In cellulo DNA binding and cytotoxicity. ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, Vol. 241 RIS download Bibtex download
  • Mijiler B, Blackburn J, Feijoo C, Zhao X & Smythe C (2007) Are multiple checkpoint mediators involved in a checkpoint linking histone gene expression with DNA replication?. BIOCHEMICAL SOCIETY TRANSACTIONS, Vol. 35 (pp 1369-1371) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Beniston RG & Smythe CGW (2006) Role of BRCT motif containing proteins in Chk1 activation. BREAST CANCER RESEARCH, Vol. 8 (pp S5-S6) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Rzepecki R, Smythe C & Hutchison CJ (2002) The role of mitotic vesicles in the nuclear assembly. CELLULAR & MOLECULAR BIOLOGY LETTERS, Vol. 7(2) (pp 299-299) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Smythe C, Jenkins HE & Hutchison CJ (2000) Incorporation of the nuclear pore basket protein Nup 153 into nuclear pore structures is dependent upon lamina assembly: evidence from cell-free extracts of Xenopus eggs. EMBO JOURNAL, Vol. 19(15) (pp 3918-3931) RIS download Bibtex download
Research group

Key collaborators

  • Prof Iain Coldham, Dept of Chemistry, University of Sheffield
  • Dr James Thomas, Dept of Chemistry, University of Sheffield
  • Dr Sarah Danson, Dept of Oncology, University of Sheffield
  • Dr Ferdinando Di Cunto, Department of Genetics, Biology& Biochemistry, University of Torino.
  • Cystic Fibrosis Trust
  • Yorkshire Cancer Research
  • Royal Thai Higher Education Commission
  • Malaysia Trust Council (Majlis Amanah Rakyat)
Teaching activities

Undergraduate and postgraduate taught modules


  • BMS109-106 Pathobiology
  • BMS379 Cancer Biology (Co-ordinator)

Masters (MSc):

  • BMS6057 Cancer Biology (Co-ordinator)