Area of Interest

My lab is exploring links between the genetic and molecular causes of age-related degenerative diseases, such as ALS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. A common hallmark of almost all degenerative diseases is the progressive accumulation of protein aggregates. Autophagy-lysosome mediated degradation is the major pathway that clears aggregates from the cytoplasm and autophagy defects are associated with many degenerative diseases. Using CRISPR gene editing techniques, we are introducing disease-causing mutations into the endogenous fruit fly genome and using a combination of genetic, biochemical and microscopy methods to study how the autophagy-lysosome pathway is affected in various cell types (e.g. neurons, glia and muscles) and how these molecular defects drive progressive degenerative phenotypes in the whole organism. 


Selected Publications

Full publication list available at


Johnson AE, Shu H, Hauswirth AG, Tong A, Davis GW. VCP-dependent muscle degeneration is linked to defects in a dynamic tubular lysosomal network in vivo. eLife. 4:e07366.

Johnson AE, Chen JS, Gould KL. 2013. CK1 is required for a mitotic checkpoint that delays cytokinesis. Curr Biol. 23(19):1920-6.

Johnson AE, McCollum D, Gould KL. 2012. Polar opposites: fine-tuning cytokinesis through SIN asymmetry. Cytoskeleton (review) 69(10):686-99.

Johnson AE, Collier SE, Ohi MD, Gould KL. 2012. Fission yeast Dma1 requires RING domain dimerization for its ubiquitin ligase activity and mitotic checkpoint function. J Biol Chem. 287(31):25741-25748.

Johnson AE, Gould KL. 2011. Dma1 ubiquitinates the SIN scaffold, Sid4, to impede the mitotic localization of Plo1 kinase. EMBO J. 30(2):341-54.

Johnson AE, Le IP, Buchwalter AL and Burnatowska-Hledin M. 2007. Estrogen Dependent Growth and Estrogen Receptor (ER)-alpha concentration in T47D Breast Cancer Cells are Inhibited by VACM-1, a cul-5 Gene. Mol Cell Biochem. 301(1-2):13-20.