John Johnson, PhD Research Interests

My area of interest is to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms by which viruses overcome complement pathways. The human complement system a part of the innate immune system which consists of a group of intricate and concerted group of proteins is a potent first line of defense against a range of pathogens including viruses. We have focused on interactions of complement with Paramyxoviruses, a medically-important group of non-segmented, enveloped, negative strand RNA viruses of both clinical and veterinary significance.

 

The complement system is rightfully considered a ‘double-edged sword’, meaning, besides acting on pathogens, it can target the host. However this is thwarted by a group of proteins called as regulators of complement activation, which include CD46, CD55, factor H etc. We have shown that PIV5 and Mumps virus, two closely related paramyxoviruses, hijack CD46 and CD55 from the host cells during the process of virus budding and egress and use it to inactivate complement proteins thus evading neutralization. Currently my focus is on understanding the process of regulatory protein recruitment by these viruses. Of key interest is to identify the specificity of this process and which viral proteins contribute to this recruitment. Also another area of pursuit is unlocking the regulation both at the transcriptional and translational level within the host which is mediated by these viruses both in vitro and in vivo. Unraveling the molecular mechanisms of complement-paramyxovirus interaction is critical in developing both efficient and safer vaccines, as well as more potent oncolytic vectors

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Microbiology & Immunology
Wake Forest School of Medicine
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