Laura A Johnston
Laura A Johnston, PhD
Professor of Genetics and Development
Member, Columbia Stem Cell Initiative
Member, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center

Address: 701 West 168th Street Room 704 New York NY 10032
Phone: 212-305-1688
Fax: 212-305-1752


Education and Training:
Ph.D. 1994, University of Washington
Postdoctoral Fellow 1994-1996, University of Washington
Postdoctoral Fellow 1996-2000, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
bullet  Department of Genetics and Development
bullet  Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center
bullet  Columbia Stem Cell Initiative
Training Activities:
bullet  Department of Genetics and Development
bullet  Department of Biological Sciences
bullet  Integrated Program in Molecular, Cellular and Biophysical Studies
Research Summary:
(800 words, max)
Fitness sensing during organ and tissue growth: internal surveillance mechanisms that promote healthy organ development
Current Research:
My laboratory investigates the mechanisms used by growing tissues to gauge and regulate the collective and individual fitness of cells, thereby optimizing tissue and animal fitness. We are interested in the basic biological mechanisms that regulate these processes, how they contribute to development of healthy tissues and in understanding their relevance to developmental and tumorigenic pathologies. We use the simple genetic model organism Drosophila and utilize strategies that allow manipulation of growth and cell fitness in living, growing animals. Our projects include: how the growth regulator Myc mediates competitive interactions during tissue and organ growth; investigation of homeostatic processes, including metabolism, that allow cells to sense and respond to growth changes in their local environment; identification of factors that act as sensors and mediators of cellular fitness; and genetic and molecular dissection of tissue regeneration. These processes provide plasticity to growing organs and give cells control over their local environment.

Drosophila wing discs containing non-competing neutral clones (green, left) and competing clones expressing extra Myc (green, right). Images courtesy of M. Ziosi.
(6 max)
1. Meyer, S.N*., Amoyel, M*., Bergantinos, C*., de la Cova, C. Schertl, K., Basler, K. and Johnston, L. A. (*co first authors): (2014) An ancient defense system eliminates unfit cells from developing tissues during cell competition.  Science  346 : (6214)

2. Johnston, L. A. : Socializing with Myc: Cell Competition in Development and as a Model for Pre-malignant Cancer  in "MYC and the Pathway to Cancer", CSH Persp Med, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press,  Cold Spring Harbor,  NY,  USA,  2014

3. de la Cova, C., Senoo-Matsuda, N., Ziosi, M., Bellosta, P., Wu, D.C., Quinzii, C.M., and Johnston, L. A.: (2014) Super-competitor status of dMyc-expressing cells reprograms metabolism and requires p53 as a fitness sensor.  Cell Metabolism   19: 470-483

4. Wells, B. S. and Johnston, L. A.: (2012) Maintenance of imaginal disc plasticity and regenerative potential in Drosophila by p53.  Developmental Biology  361: 263-276

5. Neto-Silva, R. M., de Beco, S. and Johnston, L. A: (2010) Evidence for a Growth-Stabilizing Regulatory Feedback Mechanism between Myc and Yorkie, the Drosophila Homolog of Yap.  Developmental Cell   19: 507-520

6. de la Cova, C., Abril, M., Bellosta, P., Gallant, P., and Johnston, L. A: (2004) Drosophila Myc regulates organ size by inducing cell competition.  Cell  117: 107-116

URL for lab page:
 (coming soon)