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: lineage heterogenity and plasticity in neuroendocrine tumors (lung & prostate)
- Developmental Neuroscience: neurogenesis and neuronal specification
- Somatosensory circuit formation: dorsal spinal cord
- Transcription factor function in neural stem and progenitor cell biology
- Positive autofeedback regulation of Ptf1a transcription generates the levels of PTF1A required to generate itch circuit neurons.
- Mona B, Villarreal J, Savage TK, Kollipara RK, Boisvert BE, Johnson JE, Genes Dev. 2020 Apr
- Intrinsic DNA binding properties demonstrated for lineage-specifying basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors.
- Casey BH, Kollipara RK, Pozo K, Johnson JE Genome Res. 2018 Mar
- Repression by PRDM13 is critical for generating precision in neuronal identity.
- Mona B, Uruena A, Kollipara RK, Ma Z, Borromeo MD, Chang JC, Johnson JE Elife 2017 Aug 6
- ASCL1 and NEUROD1 Reveal Heterogeneity in Pulmonary Neuroendocrine Tumors and Regulate Distinct Genetic Programs.
- Borromeo MD, Savage TK, Kollipara RK, He M, Augustyn A, Osborne JK, Girard L, Minna JD, Gazdar AF, Cobb MH, Johnson JE Cell Rep 2016 Jul
- 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
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