Peter J McKinnon, Ph.D.

Peter J McKinnon, Ph.D.

Department of Genetics and Tumor
Cell Biology
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Affiliated Professor
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Department Genetics & Tumor Cell Biology
262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN 38105
Phone (901) 595-2700
Fax (901) 525-6035
Email: Peter J McKinnon


  • Ph.D. Institution: The Flinders Universiry of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
  • Postdoctoral: The Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, Nutley, New Jersey


Research Interests

Our goal is to understand the role of the DNA damage response in the nervous system, and how this functions to prevent disease. The response to genotoxic stress is a prerequisite for development of the nervous system. Mutations in a variety of DNA damage-response factors can lead to human diseases that are characterized by pronounced neuropathology. In many of these syndromes the neurological component is amongst the most deleterious aspects of the disease. Because the nervous system poses a particular challenge in terms of clinical intervention, understanding how DNA repair deficiency impacts the nervous system will be important for design of therapies targeted at ameliorating neuropathology including neurodegeneration and brain tumors. For more information please see:

Representative Publications

  • Carroll J, Page TK, Chiang SC, Kalmar B, Bode D, Greensmith L, Mckinnon PJ, Thorpe JR, Hafezparast M, El-Khamisy SF. Expression of a pathogenic mutation of SOD1 sensitizes aprataxin-deficient cells and mice to oxidative stress and triggers hallmarks of premature ageing. Hum Mol Genet. 2014 Sep 30. pii: ddu500. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 25274775.
  • Zindy F, Kawauchi D, Lee Y, Ayrault O, Ben Merzoug L, McKinnon PJ, Ventura A, Roussel MF. Role of the miR-17∼92 cluster family in cerebellar and medulloblastoma development. Biol Open. 2014 Jun 13;3(7):597-605. doi: 10.1242/bio.20146734. PubMed PMID: 24928431; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4154296.
  • Lee Y, Brown EJ, Chang S, McKinnon PJ. Pot1a prevents telomere dysfunction and ATM-dependent neuronal loss. J Neurosci. 2014 Jun 4;34(23):7836-44. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4245-13.2014. PubMed PMID: 24899707; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4044246.
  • Katyal S, Lee Y, Nitiss KC, Downing SM, Li Y, Shimada M, Zhao J, Russell HR, Petrini JH, Nitiss JL, McKinnon PJ. Aberrant topoisomerase-1 DNA lesions are pathogenic in neurodegenerative genome instability syndromes. Nat Neurosci. 2014 Jun;17(6):813-21. doi: 10.1038/nn.3715. Epub 2014 May 4. PubMed PMID: 24793032; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4074009.
  • McKinnon PJ. TDP2 keeps the brain healthy. Nat Genet. 2014 May;46(5):419-21. doi: 10.1038/ng.2967. PubMed PMID: 24769717.
  • Yeo AJ, Becherel OJ, Luff JE, Cullen JK, Wongsurawat T, Jenjaroenpoon P, Kuznetsov VA, McKinnon PJ, Lavin MF. R-loops in proliferating cells but not in the brain: implications for AOA2 and other autosomal recessive ataxias. PLoS One. 2014 Mar 17;9(3):e90219. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0090219. eCollection 2014. PubMed PMID: 24637776; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3956458.

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