John Calarco


John Calarco website Academic Title: Assistant Professor

Campus: St. George

CSB Appointment: Full

Primary Undergraduate Department:
Cell & Systems Biology

Graduate Programs:
Cell & Systems Biology

Titles and Honors:
Medicine by Design Investigator

Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Neuronal RNA Biology

Academic or Administrative Appointments:
Ph.D. University of Toronto, 2011
B.Sc. University of Toronto, 2005


Mailing Address
Department of Cell & Systems Biology
University of Toronto
25 Harbord St.
Toronto, ON M5S 3G5


Contact Information
Office phone: 416-978-5766
Office: 513A
Lab: 511
Lab phone: 416-946-7785


Research Areas
Animal Biology
Bioinformatics & Computational Biology
Developmental Biology
Functional Genomics
Molecular Biology


 A major goal of our lab is to better understand the role of post-transcriptional gene regulation in the development, differentiation, and function of the nervous system. The nervous system provides an attractive model to study the mechanism and role of cell-type specific gene regulation because it is composed of diverse neuronal cells that require customized regulatory programs to achieve specialized functions. One research area in my group will focus on understanding the mechanisms and function of alternative splicing in the developing and mature nervous system using both mammalian stem cells and C. elegans. Through the process of alternative splicing, multiple messenger RNAs can be generated from single precursor transcripts. The evolution of alternative splicing has greatly contributed to the diversification of metazoan transcriptomes, and in some species can generate up to an order of magnitude greater number of transcript isoforms than the corresponding repertoire of protein-coding genes. We pursue these problems using a combination of biochemistry, cell biology, molecular genetics, and genome-wide analyses. Additionally, several ongoing projects are directing our research towards investigating the role of other layers of co- and post-transcriptional gene regulation in nervous system development and function.




Synthetic Genetic Interaction (CRISPR-SGI) Profiling in Caenorhabditis elegans. Calarco JA, Norris AD. Bio Protoc. 2018 Mar 5;8(5). pii: e2756. doi: 10.21769/BioProtoc.2756.


An Elongin-Cullin-SOCS Box Complex Regulates Stress-Induced Serotonergic Neuromodulation. Gracida X, Dion MF, Harris G, Zhang Y, Calarco JA. Cell Rep. 2017 Dec 12;21(11):3089-3101. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.11.042.

CRISPR-mediated genetic interaction profiling identifies RNA binding proteins controlling metazoan fitness. Norris AD, Gracida X, Calarco JA. Elife. 2017 Jul 18;6. pii: e28129. doi: 10.7554/eLife.28129.

Cell type-specific transcriptome profiling in C. elegans using the Translating Ribosome Affinity Purification technique. Gracida X, Calarco JA. 2017. Methods. 2017 Aug 15;126:130-137. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2017.06.023. Epub 2017 Jun 23.

Serotonin-dependent kinetics of feeding bursts underlie a graded response to food availability in C. elegans. Lee KS, Iwanir S, Kopito RB, Scholz M, Calarco JA, Biron D, Levine E. 2017. Nat Commun. 2017 Feb 1;8:14221. doi: 10.1038/ncomms14221.

Neuroendocrine modulation sustains the C. elegans forward motor state. Lim MA, Chitturi J, Laskova V, Meng J, Findeis D, Wiekenberg A, Mulcahy B, Luo L, Li Y, Lu Y, Hung W, Qu Y, Ho CY, Holmyard D, Ji N, McWhirter R, Samuel AD, Miller DM, Schnabel R, Calarco JA, Zhen M. 2017. Elife. 2017 Nov 18;5. pii: e19887. doi: 10.7554/eLife.19887.



Alternative Splicing: C. elegans as a Model System. Gracida, Xicotencatl, Adam D Norris, and John A Calarco. 2016. Regulation of Tissue-Specific. Advances in experimental medicine and biology. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-29073-7_10.



Creating Genome Modifications in C. elegans Using the CRISPR/Cas9 System. Calarco, John A, and Ari E Friedland. 2015. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.). doi:10.1007/978-1-4939-2842-2_6.

Efficient Genome Editing in Caenorhabditis elegans with a Toolkit of Dual-Marker Selection Cassettes.  Norris, Adam D, Hyun-Min Kim, Mónica P Colaiácovo, and John A Calarco. 2015. Genetics, no. 2 (July 30). doi:10.1534/genetics.115.180679.



A pair of RNA-binding proteins controls networks of splicing events contributing to specialization of neural cell types.  Norris, Adam D, Shangbang Gao, Megan L Norris, Debashish Ray, Arun K Ramani, Andrew G Fraser, Quaid Morris, Timothy R Hughes, Mei Zhen, and John A Calarco. 2014. Molecular cell, no. 6 (June 5). doi:10.1016/j.molcel.2014.05.004.

EOL-1, the homolog of the mammalian Dom3Z, regulates olfactory learning in C. elegans. Shen, Yu, Jiangwen Zhang, John A Calarco, and Yun Zhang. 2014. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, no. 40 ( 1). doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0230-14.2014.



Heritable genome editing in C. elegans via a CRISPR-Cas9 system  Friedland, Ari E, Yonatan B Tzur, Kevin M Esvelt, Monica P Colaiácovo, George M Church, and John A Calarco. 2013..Nature methods, no. 8 (June 30). doi:10.1038/nmeth.2532.

Heritable custom genomic modifications in Caenorhabditis elegans via a CRISPR-Cas9 system.  Tzur, Yonatan B, Ari E Friedland, Saravanapriah Nadarajan, George M Church, John A Calarco, and Monica P Colaiácovo. 2013. Genetics, no. 3 (August 26). doi:10.1534/genetics.113.156075.

“Cryptic” exons reveal some of their secrets. Calarco, John A. 2013. eLife (January 22). doi:10.7554/eLife.00476.



Emerging Roles of Alternative Pre-mRNA Splicing Regulation in Neuronal Development and Function.  Norris, Adam D, and John A Calarco. 2012. Frontiers in neuroscience (August 21). doi:10.3389/fnins.2012.00122.



Synthetic Genetic Interaction (CRISPR-SGI) Profiling in ..Calarco JA, Norris AD. Bio Protoc 2018 Mar 05; 8(5):


An Elongin-Cullin-SOCS Box Complex Regulates Stress-Induced Serotonergic Neuromodulation..Gracida X, Dion MF, Harris G, Zhang Y, Calarco JA. Cell Rep 2017 Dec 12; 21(11):3089-3101