Alyssa Johnson

Assistant ProfessorAlyssa Johnson

Office: 218 LSB
Lab: 265/277/279/279A/383 LSB
Phone: 225-578-7228

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

Complete list of publications

Villalobos TV#, Ghosh B#, Alam S#, Butsch TJ, Mercola BM, Ramos CD, Das S, Eymard ED, Bohnert KA* and Johnson AE*. Tubular lysosome induction couples animal starvation to healthy aging. #equal contributions, *corresponding authors. BioRxiv (preprint). doi:  

Ramos CD, Bohnert KA* Johnson AE*. 2022. Reproductive tradeoffs govern sexually dimorphic tubular lysosome induction in C. elegans. J Exp Biol 225 (12): jeb244282. *corresponding authors
Inside JEB featured article: Knight, K. 2022. Different tubular lysosome strategies of male and hermaphrodite C. elegans. J Exp Biol 225 (12): jeb244612.

Bohnert, KA* and Johnson, AE*. 2022. Branching off: new insight into lysosomes as tubular organelles. Front Cell Dev Biol. (review) doi: 10.3389/fcell.2022.863922. *corresponding authors

Butsch TJ, Dubuisson O, Johnson AE and Bohnert KA. 2022. A meiotic switch in lysosome activity supports spermatocyte development in young flies but collapses with age. iScience. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.104382.

Dolese D, Junot M, Ghosh B, Butsch TJ, Johnson AE and Bohnert KA. 2021. Degradative tubular lysosomes links pexophagy to starvation and early aging in C. elegans. Autophagy. DOI: 10.1080/15548627.2021.1990647 (  

Wall JM*, Basu A*, Zunica ERM, Dubuisson OS, Pergola K, Broussard JP, Kirwan JP, Axelrod CL and Johnson AE. 2021. CRISPR/Cas9-engineered Drosophila knock-in models to study VCP diseases. Dis Model  Mech 14(7) *equal contributions. 

Johnson AE, Orr BO, Fetter RD, Moughamian AJ, Primeaux LA*, Geier EG, Yokoyama JS, Miller BL and Davis GW. 2021. SVIP is a Molecular Determinant of Lysosomal Dynamic Stability, Neurodegeneration and Lifespan. Nat Commun 12, 513.

Johnson AE, Shu H, Hauswirth AG, Tong A, Davis GW. 2015. VCP-dependent muscle degeneration is linked to defects in a dynamic tubular lysosomal network in vivo. eLife. 4:e07366.