Aaron Johnson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Developmental Biology

Developmental, Regenerative and Stem Cell Biology Program
Molecular Genetics and Genomics Program

  • 314-273-1834

  • anjohnson@wustl.edu

  • muscle, congenital disease, organogenesis, gene discovery

  • Molecular mechanisms of skeletal and cardiac muscle development and disease

Research Abstract:

An essential research priority in the field of developmental and regenerative biology is to understand how morphogens regulate cell form and function during tissue morphogenesis. Although morphogens have been studied for decades, the mechanisms by which extracellular signals govern cell shape changes during organogenesis remain poorly understood. In addition, a number of congenital diseases are thought to arise from defects in organ development. To close this knowledge gap, we are using skeletal muscle development as a model to characterize the molecules and mechanisms that govern post-mitotic tissue morphogenesis.

Skeletal muscle is largely comprised of a single cell type, the myofiber, yet skeletal muscles develop in a variety of shapes and sizes. This simple yet robust system has provided a unique platform to investigate how specific signal transduction pathways, including the FGF, Notch, WNT, and Hippo pathways, dictate muscle morphology. We have also used our system to characterize novel developmental functions for alleles associated with congenital myopathies. This high-resolution framework has provided new insights into the mechanisms that regulate cell form and function during organogenesis, and has uncovered novel etiologies associated with congenital disease.

Selected Publications:

Williams, J., N. Boin, J. Valera, and AN. Johnson (2015). Noncanonical roles for Tropomyosin during myogenesis. Development 142 (19): 3440-52. PMID: 26293307.

Johnson, A.N.*, M.H. Mokalled, J. Valera, K.D. Poss, and EN. Olson* (2013). Post-transcriptional regulation of myotube elongation and myogenesis by Hoi Polloi. Development 140 (17): 3645-56. (*co-corresponding authors) PMID: 23942517.

Mokalled, MH., AN. Johnson, E. Creemers, and EN. Olson (2012). MASTR directs MyoD-dependent satellite cell differentiation during skeletal muscle regeneration. Genes Dev 26(2): 190-202. PMID: 22279050.

Johnson AN., MH. Mokalled, TN. Haden, and EN. Olson (2011). Jak/Stat signaling regulates heart precursor diversification in Drosophila. Development 138(21): 4627-38. PMID: 21965617.

Mokalled MH., AN. Johnson, Y. Kim, J. Oh, and EN. Olson (2010). Myocardin-related transcription factors regulate the Cdk5/Pctaire-1 kinase cascade to control neurite outgrowth, neuronal migration and brain development. Development 137(14): 2365-74. PMID: 20534669.

Yi P, AN., Johnson*, Z. Han, J. Wu, and EN. Olson (2008). Heterotrimeric G proteins regulate a noncanonical function of septate junction proteins to maintain cardiac integrity in Drosophila. Developmental Cell 15 (5): 704-13. (*co-first authors) PMID: 19000835.

Johnson, AN., LA. Burnette, J. Sellin, A. Paululat, and SJ. Newfeld (2007). Defective Dpp signaling results in heart overgrowth and reduced cardiac output in Drosophila. Genetics 176 (3): 1609-24. PMID:17507674.

Last Updated: 1/12/2018 12:10:14 PM

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