DEPARTMENT OF CHEMISTRY
 

 
FACULTY/Staff PROFILE
seporator

Kelly Johanson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Telephone Number: 504-520-7610
Room Number: NCF - Room 301H
Email Address: kjohanso@xula.edu

 

Courses

Introduction to Biochemistry Lab (3130L), Metabolism (4140), General Chemistry Lab (1011L)

 

Short Professional Biography

Dr. Johanson received her B.S. degree in Biochemistry from Beloit College in Beloit, WI in 1998.  She then received a Ph.D. from Tulane University in 2003, working in the lab of Dr. Linda Hyman.  Here, she worked on identifying transcription termination signals in yeast.  This became the focus of her dissertation “Defining the role of GRS1 in transcription termination.”  While at Tulane, she also worked with Dr. Timothy Hammond on a project to identify molecular changes in microgravity.  Using yeast as a model system, Dr. Hammond’s group designed a series of experiments that were flown on the space shuttle Atlantis (STS-112) in October 2002.  Dr. Johanson remained at Tulane after completing her graduate work and completed a postdoctoral position in Dr. Hammond’s lab examining gene expression changes in response to microgravity.  In 2005, she joined the lab of Dr. Andrew Hollenbach at LSU Health Sciences center and worked there as a postdoctoral researcher until 2008.  At LSU, Dr. Johanson began studying the role of the oncogenic transcription factor, Pax3-FOXO1, in the development of Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, which remains the focus of her current research.  She joined the Chemistry department faculty at Xavier University in August 2008.

 

Research Interest

Dr. Johanson’s research is focused on the oncogenic chimeric transcription factor involved in the development of Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS), an aggressive soft-tissue sarcoma affecting children and adolescents. ARMS patients have a poor prognosis with an approximate event-free four-year survival rate of only 17% .  The more malignant form of ARMS is characterized by a (2;13)(p35;q14) chromosomal translocation that results in the fusion of two transcription factors involved in muscle development, Pax3 and FOX01a. This Pax3-FOXO1 fusion protein retains the DNA binding regions of Pax3, while the Pax3 transcriptional activation domain is replaced by two elements from FOXO1 — a bisected DNA binding domain and the FOXO1 transcriptional activation domain.  Despite the identification and characterization of this oncogenic transcription factor, little is known about how Pax3-FOXO1 targets specific genes or how their aberrant activation might lead to the development of ARMS.  Dr. Johanson is primarily interested in investigating the mechanisms of Pax3-FOXO1 DNA binding as a way of identifying its potential direct transcriptional targets.

 

Current Grant Support

NIH SCORE SC2; Johanson (PI)   08/01/2012 - 07/31/2014
Gene Regulation in ARMS Pathology:  The Role of FOXO1 in Pax3-FOXO1 DNA Binding
The major goals of this project are to identify the contribution of the FOXO1 DNA-binding domain to the Pax3-FOXO1 activity.

 

Recent Publications

Johanson KE, Watt TJ, McIntyre, NM, Thompson, M.  Purification and characterization of enzymes from yeast: An extended undergraduate laboratory sequence for large classes.  Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education. 2013 Jul 18:41(4):251-261

Sidhu A, Miller PJ, Johanson KE, Hollenbach AD. Novel flanking DNA sequences enhance FOXO1a DNA binding affinity but do not alter DNA bending. Biochemistry. 2008 Jul 1;47(26):6809-18.

Coleman CB, Gonzalez-Villalobos RA, Allen PL, Johanson K, Guevorkian K, Valles JM, Hammond TG. Diamagnetic levitation changes growth, cell cycle, and gene expression of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Biotechnol Bioeng. 2007 Nov 1;98(4):854-63.

Johanson K, Allen PL, Gonzalez-Villalobos RA, Nesbit J, Nickerson CA, Honer ziu Bentrup K, Wilson JW, Ramamurthy R, D’Elia R, Muse KE, Freeman J, Stodieck LS, Hammond TG. Haploid deletion strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae that determine survival during space flight. Acta Astronautica. 2006

Johanson K, Allen PL, Gonzalez-Villalobos RA, Baker CB, D'Elia R, Hammond TG. Gene expression and survival changes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae during suspension culture. Biotechnol Bioeng. 2006 Apr 20;93(6):1050-9.

 

 
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