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

  • 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.
  • McKinnon PJ. Maintaining genome stability in the nervous system. Nat Neurosci. 2013 Nov;16(11):1523-9. doi: 10.1038/nn.3537. Epub 2013 Oct 28. Review. PubMed PMID: 24165679.
  • Rodrigues PM, Grigaravicius P, Remus M, Cavalheiro GR, Gomes AL, Rocha-Martins M, Frappart L, Reuss D, McKinnon PJ, von Deimling A, Martins RA, Frappart PO. Correction: Nbn and Atm Cooperate in a Tissue and Developmental Stage-Specific Manner to Prevent Double Strand Breaks and Apoptosis in Developing Brain and Eye. PLoS One. 2013 Aug 22;8(8). doi: 10.1371/annotation/b38f50e0-04b6-42c5-8b19-50be747a38f3. eCollection 2013. PubMed PMID: 24098610; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3782336.
  • Rodrigues PM, Grigaravicius P, Remus M, Cavalheiro GR, Gomes AL, Martins MR, Frappart L, Reuss D, McKinnon PJ, von Deimling A, Martins RA, Frappart PO. Nbn and atm cooperate in a tissue and developmental stage-specific manner to prevent double strand breaks and apoptosis in developing brain and eye. PLoS One. 2013 Jul 30;8(7):e69209. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069209. Print 2013. PubMed PMID: 23935957; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3728324.
  • Shokolenko IN, Fayzulin RZ, Katyal S, McKinnon PJ, Wilson GL, Alexeyev MF. Mitochondrial DNA ligase is dispensable for the viability of cultured cells but essential for mtDNA maintenance. J Biol Chem. 2013 Sep 13;288(37):26594-605. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.472977. Epub 2013 Jul 24. PubMed PMID: 23884459; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3772206.
  • Barzilai A, McKinnon PJ. Genome maintenance in the nervous system; insight into the role of the DNA damage response in brain development and disease. DNA Repair (Amst). 2013 Aug;12(8):541-2. doi: 10.1016/j.dnarep.2013.06.005. PubMed PMID: 23870284.

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