James C. Carrington was born on 28 September 1960 in Redondo Beach, CA. He obtained a B.S. in plant sciences from the University of California- Riverside in 1982 and conducted undergraduate research with Bill Dawson. Dr. Carrington enrolled in graduate school at the University of California- Berkeley, where he received his M.S. in 1984 and Ph.D. in 1986 under the tutelage of Jack Morris. Upon graduation, he obtained a postdoctoral fellowship from NIH for research in Bill Dougherty’s lab in the Plant Pathology Department at North Carolina State University. In 1987, he moved with Dr. Dougherty to the Department of Microbiology at Oregon State University. After appointment as assistant professor at Texas A&M University in 1988, he rose through the ranks to professor in 1996 before moving to the Institute of Biological Chemistry at Washington State University in 1997.
Dr. Carrington has made several major discoveries that are described in more than 64 published papers. These findings center around the cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, and virus–host interactions involving potyviruses. They have provided a general model for the events involved in the replication, movement, and pathogenesis of a large number of viruses in this group. As a postdoctoral fellow with Bill Dougherty, Dr. Carrington carried out a series of innovative investigations that provided the first systematic analysis of proteolytic processing of the polyprotein translation product of the potyviruses. In these and subsequent studies, he developed novel approaches by in vitro and transgenic plant expression methods to identify the three proteolytic enzymes encoded by potyviruses. He also employed extensive genetic approaches with engineered strains of Tobacco etch virus (TEV) to assign multiple functions to TEV-proteins in genome replication, cell-to-cell movement, and long-distance movement.
Other findings of general significance for virology and plant biotechnology include identification and application of translational enhancers, identification of some of the first recognized nuclear localization signals in plants, and development of potyvirus- based expression vectors for delivery of foreign genes to plants. Over the past several years, Dr. Carrington has increasingly focused on host functions that contribute to virus susceptibility or nonsusceptibility. While advocating genetic and genomic approaches to virus–host interactions in model systems, he developed novel genetic screens to identify and clone several genes contributing to these phenotypes. Among his most recent findings are that HCPro, a potyviral gene product, functions as a suppressor of posttranscriptional gene silencing (ptgs). This finding provided evidence that ptgs, a process studied extensively with transgenes, naturally functions as an adaptive antiviral response in plants. It led to a model describing the role of ptgs suppression during systemic infection by viruses.
Dr. Carrington has established an international reputation. His contributions have been recognized in a variety of formats including an NIH Individual National Research Service Award and an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award. Dr. Carrington has made numerous seminar and colloquia presentations, including an address at the Milton Harris symposium in honor of Bill Dougherty, the keynote address at an annual retreat for CEPRAP at the National Science Foundation Research Center at the University of California, Davis, a state-of-the-art lecture and a major symposium address at the American Society of Virology meeting, a colloquium address to the International Congress of Plant Pathology in 1998, and a plenary lecture at the 1999 International Congress of Virology.
Dr. Carrington has provided substantial service to plant virology and to the plant sciences community during his career. In an editorial capacity, he is a co-editor of Plant Cell, on the editorial board of Virology, and participates in ad hoc reviews for a number of other journals. Dr. Carrington also participated in the virology study section for NIH, was a panel member for the USDA Competitive Grants Initiative, and is an advisory council member for The Sainsbury Laboratory at The John Innes Center.