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Integrative Structural and Computational Biology

John Johnson, Jr, PhD

Eldon R. Strahm Professor of Structural Virology
Professor Emeritus
Department of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology
California Campus
Laboratory Website
(858) 784-9705

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., Iowa State University, 1972

Professional Experience

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

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