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Karl Johnson

Contact Information

R. C. Seaver Biology Building,Room 212
175 W Sixth Street
Claremont, CA 91711
Lab Website


Ph.D. Cambridge University, UK, Neuroscience and Anatomy
M. S. University of California, San Diego, Biology
B. A. Grinnell College, Biology

Professional Experience

Assistant Professor of Biology and Neuroscience, Pomona College
Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Medical School


Biology 41C: Introduction to Cell Chemistry & Cell Biology
Biology 130: Vertebrate Sensory Systems

Research Interests

The Johnson laboratory examines the molecular mechanisms of how simple central nervous systems are built, using Drosophila as a model organism. Our research focuses on identifying novel genes that are essential for two aspects of nervous system development, first, how neurons find their proper synaptic targets, and second, how neurons build synapses. We have begun to characterize how heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) influence central nervous system development, and are focusing our current efforts on examining the roles of two HSPGs, syndecan and dallylike, in central nervous system development.

Selected Publications

Stryker, E., and K.G. Johnson. 2007. LAR, liprin α and the regulation of active zone morphogenesis. J. Cell Sci. 120: 3723-3728. [abstract | html | pdf]

Johnson, K.G., A.P. Tenney, A. Ghose, A.M. Duckworth, M.E. Higashi, K. Parfitt, O. Marcu, T.R. Heslip, J.L. Marsh, T.L. Schwarz, J.G. Flanagan, and D. Van Vactor. 2006. The HSPGs Syndecan and Dallylike bind the receptor phosphatase LAR and exert opposing effects on synapse growth. Neuron 49: 517-531. [abstract]

Van Vactor, D., D.P. Wall, and K.G. Johnson. 2006. Heparan sulfate proteoglycans and the emergence of neuronal connectivity. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 16: 40-51. [abstract]

Johnson, K.G., A. Ghose, E. Epstein, J. Lincecum, M.B. O’Connor, and D. Van Vactor. 2003. Axonal heparan sulfate proteoglycans regulate the distribution and efficiency of the repellent Slit during midline axon guidance. Curr. Biol. 14: 499-504. [abstract]

Johnson, K.G., and D. Van Vactor. 2003. Receptor protein tyrosine phosphatases in nervous system development. Physiological Reviews 83: 1-24. [abstract | full text | pdf]