John Johnson, Jr

Eldon R. Strahm Professor of Structural Virology
Professor Emeritus
Department of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology
California Campus


Research Focus

We investigate model virus systems that provide insights for understanding assembly, maturation, entry, localization, and replication processes. Viruses infecting bacteria, insects, plants and the extreme thermophile sulfolobus are investigated. These viruses have genomes of ssRNA, and dsDNA. We employ a variety of physical methods to investigate structure-function relationships, including single crystal x-ray diffraction, static and time-resolved solution x-ray diffraction, electron cryo microscopy (cryoEM) and image reconstruction, mass spectrometry, structure-based computational analyses and methods associated with thermodynamic characterization of virus particles and their transitions. Biological methods employed include the genetic engineering of viral genes and their expression in E. coli, mammalian cells, insect cells and yeast and the characterization of these gene products by physical methods. Cytological studies of viral entry and infection employ fluorescence and electron microscopy and particles assembled in heterologus expression systems.


Ph.D. (Physical Chemistry), Iowa State University, 1972
B.A. (Chemistry), Carthage College, 1967

Professional Experience

2013-2015 Professor, Integrative Structural and Computational Biology (ISCB), Scripps Research
1995-2015 Faculty Member, Skaggs Graduate School of Chemical and Biological Sciences, Scripps Research
1995-2012 Professor, Molecular Biology, Scripps Research
1985-1995 Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University
1993-1993 Visiting Member, Scripps Research
1986-1986 Visiting Professor, Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology (Institute Biologie Moleculaire et Cellulaire)
1981-1985 Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University
1978-1981 Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University
1975-1977 Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University
1972-1975 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University

Awards & Professional Activities

Member, Board of Scientific Counselors, National Cancer Institute and National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases; Member, Board of Governors, Consortium for Advanced Radiation Sources, University of Chicago; Editorial Boards, Virology, Journal of General Virology, Structure With Folding and Design, Journal of Molecular Recognition.

Selected References

All Publications

In vivo virus structures: Simultaneous Classification, Resolution Enhancement, and Noise Reduction in Whole-Cell Electron Tomography. Wang, K., Fu, C., Khayat, R., Doerschuk, P. C., and Johnson, J. E. (2011) J. Struc. Biol. 174:425-433.

Transferrin-mediated targeting of bacteriophage HK97 nanoparticles into tumor cells. Huang, R. K., Steinmetz, N. F., Fu, C., Manchester, M., and Johnson, J. E. (2011) Nanomedicine 6:55-68.

Flock House Virus: A Model System for Understanding Non-Enveloped Virus Entry and Membrane Penetration. Odegard, A., Banerjee, M., and Johnson, J.E. (2010) Curr. Top. Microbiol. Immunol. 343:1-22.

Subunits fold at position-dependent rates during maturation of a eukaryotic RNA virus. Matsui, T., Lander, G. C., Khayat, R., and Johnson, J. E. (2010) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 107:14111-5.

The architecture and chemical stability of the archaeal Sulfolobus turreted icosahedral virus. Khayat, R., Fu, C.Y., Ortmann, A.C., Young, M.J., and Johnson, J.E. (2010) J. Virol. 84:9575-83.

An unexpected twist in viral capsid maturation. Gertsman, I., Gan, L., Guttman, M., Lee, K., Speir, J.A., Duda, R.L., Hendrix, R.W., Komives, E.A., and Johnson, J.E. (2009) Nature 458:646-50.


Adding Function to Structure

Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) Turn Viruses into Enhanced Nanochemical Building Blocks