Dr. Johnson obtained her B.S. in Chemistry (1983) and her Ph. D. in Biochemistry (1988) at the University of Washington in Seattle. Her Ph. D. research was with Dr. Stephan Hauschka on muscle development. Postdoctoral research with Dr. David Anderson at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena led to the discovery of Ascl1 (previously Mash1), an essential transcription factor in neural development. She joined the faculty at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in December 1992 where she is currently a Professor in the Department of Neuroscience and holds the Shirley and William S. McIntyre Distinguished Chair in Neuroscience.
The research in the Johnson lab is focused on vertebrate nervous system development during the transition from proliferating neural stem cells to differentiating neurons and glia. We use the bHLH family of transcription factors to probe the molecular mechanisms controlling the balance of neural progenitor cell maintenance and differentiation, and the generation of neuronal diversity. Alteration in function and expression of the neural bHLH factors result in disturbances of connectivity, imbalances in excitatory and inhibitory neuron formation and loss of control of neural cell number. Our focus on understanding how transcription factors regulate neuronal differentiation and diversity has direct implications for stem cell biology and cancer.
- University of Washington (1983)
- Graduate School
- University of Washington (1988)
- Cancer Biology: glioblastoma and small cell lung carcinoma
- Developmental Neuroscience: neurogenesis and neuronal specification
- Somatosensory circuit formation: dorsal spinal cord
- Transcription factor function in neural stem and progenitor cell biology
- ASCL1 is a lineage oncogene providing therapeutic targets for high-grade neuroendocrine lung cancers.
- Augustyn A, Borromeo M, Wang T, Fujimoto J, Shao C, Dospoy PD, Lee V, Tan C, Sullivan JP, Larsen JE, Girard L, Behrens C, Wistuba II, Xie Y, Cobb MH, Gazdar AF, Johnson JE, Minna JD Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2014 Sep
- Transcription factor network specifying inhibitory versus excitatory neurons in the dorsal spinal cord
- Borromeo MD, Meredith DM, Castro D, Chang JC, Tung KC, Guillemot F, and Johnson JE Development 2014 141 2803-2812
- Ascl1 controls the number and distribution of astrocytes and oligodendrocytes in the gray matter and white matter of the spinal cord
- Vue TY, Kim EJ, Parras CM, Guillemot F, and Johnson JE Development 2014 141 3721-3731
- Program Specificity for Ptf1a in Pancreas versus Neural Tube Development Correlates with Distinct Collaborating Cofactors and Chromatin Accessibility.
- Meredith DM, Borromeo MD, Deering TG, Casey BH, Savage TK, Mayer PR, Hoang C, Tung KC, Kumar M, Shen C, Swift GH, Macdonald RJ, Johnson JE Mol. Cell. Biol. 2013 Aug 33 16 3166-79
- Prdm13 mediates the balance of inhibitory and excitatory neurons in somatosensory circuits.
- Chang JC, Meredith DM, Mayer PR, Borromeo MD, Lai HC, Ou YH, Johnson JE Dev. Cell 2013 Apr 25 2 182-95
- In vivo neuronal subtype-specific targets of atoh1 (math1) in dorsal spinal cord.
- Lai HC, Klisch TJ, Roberts R, Zoghbi HY, Johnson JE J. Neurosci. 2011 Jul 31 30 10859-71
- Ascl1 (Mash1) defines cells with long-term neurogenic potential in subgranular and subventricular zones in adult mouse brain.
- Kim EJ, Ables JL, Dickel LK, Eisch AJ, Johnson JE PLoS ONE 2011 6 3 e18472
- Multiple transcriptional mechanisms control Ptf1a levels during neural development including autoregulation by the PTF1-J complex.
- Meredith DM, Masui T, Swift GH, MacDonald RJ, Johnson JE J. Neurosci. 2009 Sep 29 36 11139-48
- A Non-classical bHLH-Rbpj transcription factor complex is required for specification of GABAergic neurons independent of Notch signaling
- Hori K, Cholewa-Waclaw J, Nakada Y, Glasgow SM, Masui T, Henke RM, Wildner H, Martarelli B, Beres TM, Epstein JA, Magneson MA, MacDonald RJ, Birchmeier C, and Johnson JE Genes and Development 2008 22 166-178
- PTF1a determines GABAergic over glutamatergic neuronal cell fate in the spinal cord dorsal horn
- Glasgow S, Henke RM, Wright C, MacDonald R, and Johnson JE Development 2005 132 5461-5469
Honors & Awards
- The Nichole Silversteen Research Chair from Malia’s Cord Foundation
- Established Investigator of the American Heart Association
- Society for Developmental Biology
- Society for Neuroscience