Harvard University - Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology


Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Email: hunter@mcb.harvard.edu
Phone: 617-495-8309

Mail: BL 3044
The Biological Labs
16 Divinity Ave
Cambridge, MA  02138

Hunter Lab Homepage
Members of the Hunter Lab
List of Publications from PubMed


MCB 153. The Practice of Experimental Science: a Genetics Laboratory Course
Catalog Number: 16796  View Course Website
Term: [Spring Term 2014-2015.]   Credit: Half course.
Instructor: Craig Hunter
Course Level: For Undergraduates and Graduates
Description: Students will be exposed to theoretical and practical concepts in classical and modern genetic analysis through direct laboratory experience using the model genetic organism C. elegans. This will be accompanied by journal clubs, student presentations, and lecture.
Prerequisite(s): Life Sciences 1a, Life Sciences 1b; can be taken concurrently with MCB 52 , MCB 54.
Meetings: M., 1-4
MCB 157. Developmental Genetics and Genomics
Catalog Number: 20809  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term 2013-2014.   Credit: Half course.
Instructor: Craig Hunter
Course Level: For Undergraduates and Graduates
Description: Our goal is for students to gain a fundamental understanding of the genetic control of development in four genetically accessible animal models; the nematode C. elegans, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, the zebra fish Danio rio, and the mouse Mus musculus. A focus of the course is to compare and contrast genetic analysis of and the genetic control of developmental processes and mechanisms in these four organisms. The course consists of lectures, student presentations, and written assignments.
Prerequisite(s): LS 1b
Meetings: M., W., 12-1:30
MCB 322. Genetics and Development
Catalog Number: 7290  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term; Repeated Spring Term 2013-2014.   Credit: Half course.
Instructor: Craig Hunter
Course Level: Graduate Course
(View all MCB Courses)


Systemic RNAi and intercellular RNA transport

We are interested in the mechanisms of intercellular RNA transport that supports systemic RNAi in C. elegans and are investigating the developmental and signaling defects associated with mutations in these RNA transport proteins in C. elegans and mice.

A remarkable property of RNA interference (RNAi) in C. elegans is its association with intercellular RNA transport pathways. This linkage mobilizes dsRNA-silencing signals and enables silencing to spread from the site of initiation throughout the animal and to the progeny. This phenomenon, known as systemic RNAi, is a conserved process among many multicellular organisms. Through genetic analysis, we have isolated systemic RNAi defective mutants (sid) and have identified the corresponding proteins (SID). SID-1 is a widely conserved dsRNA channel that selectively and specifically transports dsRNA into cells and is essential for systemic RNAi. A mammalian SID-1 homolog has been implicated in cytoplasmic delivery of modified siRNAs, suggesting that dsRNA transport is a conserved function for this family of channel proteins. SID-2 is a putative dsRNA receptor that is expressed and localized exclusively to the luminal membrane of the intestine. SID-2 transports ingested dsRNA across the intestinal epithelium into the animal to trigger RNAi. This process of sequence-specific gene silencing in response to environmentally-encountered dsRNA, known as environmental RNAi, is widespread throughout nature, including in mammals. The long-term objective of our research is to understand the physiological importance and mechanism of intercellular RNA transport in animals.


Hunter, CP. (1999) Genetics: a touch of elegance with RNAi. Curr. Biol., 9(12):R440-2. PMID: 10375522  

Hunter, CP. (2000) Gene silencing: shrinking the black box of RNAi. Curr. Biol., 10(4):R137-40. PMID: 10704407  

Winston, WM, Molodowitch, C, and Hunter, CP. (2002) Systemic RNAi in C. elegans requires the putative transmembrane protein SID-1. Science, 295(5564):2456-9. PMID: 11834782  

Feinberg, EH, and Hunter, CP. (2003) Transport of dsRNA into cells by the transmembrane protein SID-1. Science, 301(5639):1545-7. PMID: 12970568  

Schott, DH, Cureton, DK, Whelan, SP, and Hunter, CP. (2005) An antiviral role for the RNA interference machinery in Caenorhabditis elegans. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 102(51):18420-4. PMID: 16339901  PMC1317933

Jose, AM, and Hunter, CP. (2007) Transport of sequence-specific RNA interference information between cells. Annu. Rev. Genet., 41:305-30. PMID: 17645412  

Winston, WM, Sutherlin, M, Wright, AJ, Feinberg, EH, and Hunter, CP. (2007) Caenorhabditis elegans SID-2 is required for environmental RNA interference. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 104(25):10565-70. PMID: 17563372  PMC1965553

Whangbo, JS, and Hunter, CP. (2008) Environmental RNA interference. Trends Genet., 24(6):297-305. PMID: 18450316  

Jose, AM, Smith, JJ, and Hunter, CP. (2009) Export of RNA silencing from C. elegans tissues does not require the RNA channel SID-1. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 106(7):2283-8. PMID: 19168628  PMC2650148

Shih, JD, Fitzgerald, MC, Sutherlin, M, and Hunter, CP. (2009) The SID-1 double-stranded RNA transporter is not selective for dsRNA length. RNA, 15(3):384-90. PMID: 19155320  PMC2657005

Zhuang, JJ, and Hunter, CP. (2012) The Influence of Competition Among C. elegans Small RNA Pathways on Development. Genes (Basel), 3(4). PMID: 23483754  PMC3592204

updated: 04/15/2014