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Minna Roh-Johnson

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry

Cell Migration, Tumor Microenvironment, Cytoskeleton, Zebrafish, Mouse, Dictyostelium, Immunology, Breast Cancer, Melanoma

Roh-Johnson Photo


Molecular Biology Program

Biological Chemistry Program


B.Sc. Simon Fraser University

M.Sc. Simon Fraser University

Ph.D. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill



Cancer cells hijack mechanisms of normal development. In a complex milieu of an animal, in which there are many different signals from many different cells, how does a cell parse through this information to know when and where to migrate? Our long term research goal is to identify these signals, how they are communicated, and how they are interpreted into a downstream response to regulate cell motility during development and cancer. We use a combination of animal models (zebrafish and mouse) and cell culture based models, taking advantage of the strengths of each system to answer outstanding questions in cancer cell biology.

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  1. Transferred mitochondria accumulate reactive oxygen species, promoting proliferation. Kidwell CU, Casalini JR, Pradeep S, Scherer SD, Greiner D, Bayik D, Watson DC, Olson GS, Lathia JD, Johnson JS, Rutter J, Welm AL, Zangle TA, Roh-Johnson M. Elife. 2023 Mar 6. PMID: 36876914
  2. Lack of Paxillin phosphorylation promotes single-cell migration in vivo Xue Q, Varady SRS, Waddell TQA, Roman MR, Carrington J, Roh-Johnson M. J Cell Biol. 2023 Mar 6;222(3). PMID: 36723624
  3. An evolutionary and physiological perspective on cell-substrate adhesion machinery for cell migration. Fierro Morales JC, Xue Q, Roh-Johnson M. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2022 Aug 25;10:943606. PMID: 36092727
  4. Genetic Modification of Primary Human Myeloid Cells to Study Cell Migration, Activation, and Organelle Dynamics Greiner D, Scott TM, Olson GS, Aderem A, Roh-Johnson M, Johnson JS. Curr Protoc. 2022 Aug;2(8). PMID: 36018279
  5. The biochemical basis of mitochondrial dysfunction in Zellweger Spectrum Disorder. Nuebel E, Morgan JT, Fogarty S, Winter JM, Lettlova S, Berg JA, Chen YC, Kidwell CU, Maschek JA, Clowers KJ, Argyriou C, Chen L, Wittig I, Cox JE, Roh-Johnson M, Braverman N, Bonkowsky J, Gygi SP, Rutter J. EMBO Rep. 2021 Oct 5;22(10). PMID: 34351705
  6. Mechanical worrying drives cell migration in unrestrained environments. Welf E.S., Driscoll M.K., Sapoznik E, Murali V.S., Weems A, Garcia-Arcos J.M., Roh-Johnson M, Dean K.M., Piel M, Fiolka, R, and Danuser G. BioRxiv. 2021.
  7. Cell fusion potentiates tumor heterogeneity and reveals circulating hybrid cells that correlate with stage and survival. Gast CE, Silk AD, Zarour L, Riegler L, Burkhart JG, Gustafson KT, Parappilly MS, Roh-Johnson M, Goodman JR, Olson B, Schmidt M, Swain JR, Davies PS, Shasthri V, Iizuka S, Flynn P, Watson S, Korkola J, Courtneidge SA, Fischer JM, Jaboin J, Billingsley KG, Lopez CD, Burchard J, Gray J, Coussens LM, Sheppard BC, Wong MH. Science Advances. 2018. Sept 12;4(9).
  8. Sharing is Caring. Xue Q and Roh-Johnson M. Developmental Cell. 2019. May 6;49(3).
  9. Competition between TIAM1 and Membranes Balances Endophilin A3 Activity in Cancer Metastasis. Poudel KR, Roh-Johnson M, Su A, Ho T, Mathsyaraja H, Anderson S, Grady WM, Moens CB, Conacci-Sorrell M, Eisenman RN, Bai J. Developmental Cell. 2018. Jun 18;45(6):738-752. PMID: 29920278.
  10. Macrophage-dependent cytoplasmic transfer drives melanoma invasion in vivo. Roh-Johnson M, Shah AN, Stonick JA, Poudel KR, di Martino J, Hernandez RE, Gast CE, Zarour LR, Antoku S, Bravo-Cordero JJ, Wong MH, Condeelis J, Moens CB. Developmental Cell. 2017. Dec 4;43(5):549-562. PMID: 29207258
  11. Macrophage-dependent tumor cell transendothelial migration is mediated by Notch1/MenaINV-initiated invadopodium formation. Pignatelli J, Bravo-Cordero JJ, Roh-Johnson M, Gandhi SJ, Wang Y, Chen X, Eddy RJ, Xue A, Singer RH, Hodgson L, Oktay MH, Condeelis JS. Sci Rep. 2016. Nov 30;6:37874. PMID: 27901093
  12. MYC-nick promotes cell migration by inducing fascin expression and Cdc42 activation. Anderson S, Poudel KR, Roh-Johnson M, Brabletz T, Yu M, Borenstein-Auerbach N, Grady WN, Bai J, Moens CB, Eisenman RN, Conacci-Sorrell M. PNAS. 2016. Sep 13;113(37):E5481-90. PMID: 27566402
  13. Macrophage contact induces RhoA GTPase signaling to trigger tumor cell intravasation. Roh-Johnson M, Bravo-Cordero JJ, Pastialou A, Sharma VP, Liu H, Hodgson L, Condeelis J. Oncogene. 2014. Aug 14;33(33):4203-12. PMID: 2405696 
  14. Autocrine HBEGF expression promotes breast cancer intravasation, metastasis and macrophage- independent invasion in vivo. Zhou ZN, Sharma VP, Beaty BT, Roh-Johnson M, Van Rooijen N, Kenny PA, Wiley HS, Condeelis J, Segall JE. Oncogene. 2014. Jul 17;33(29):3784-93. PMID: 24013225
  15. Spatial regulation of RhoC activity defines protrusion formation in migrating cells. Bravo-Cordero JJ, Sharma VP, Roh-Johnson M, Chen X, Eddy R, Condeelis J. and Hodgson L. J. Cell Sci. 2013. Aug 1;126(Pt 15):3356-69. PMID: 23704350
  16. Triggering a cell shape change by exploiting pre-existing actomyosin contractions. Roh-Johnson M*, Shemer G*, Higgins C., McClellan J, Werts AD, Tulu US, Gao L, Betzig E, Kiehart DP, and Goldstein B. *equal contributing authors. Science. 2012. Mar 9;335(6073):1232-5. PMID: 22323741
  17. Dynamic localization of C. elegans TPR-GoLoco proteins mediates mitotic spindle orientation by extrinsic signaling. Werts AD, Roh-Johnson M, and Goldstein B. Development. 2011. Oct;138(20):4411-22. PMID: 21903670
  18. Apical constriction: A cell shape change that can drive morphogenesis. Sawyer JM, Harrell JR, Shemer G, Sullivan-Brown J, Roh-Johnson M, and Goldstein B. Dev Bio. 2010. May 1;341(1):5-19. Review. PMID: 19751720
  19. in vivo roles for Arp2/3 in cortical actin organization during C. elegans gastrulation.  . Roh-Johnson M and Goldstein B. J. Cell Sci. 2009. Nov 1;122(Pt 21):3983-93. PMID: 19889970
  20. Roles for Actin Dynamics in Cell Movements During Development. Roh-Johnson M, Sullivan-Brown J, and Goldstein B. Chapter in Actin-Based Motility: Cellular, Molecular and Physical Aspects, ed. M.-F. Carlier, Springer. Book Chapter.
  21. Wnt signaling during C. elegans embryonic development. Marston DJ, Roh M, Mikels A, Russe N, and Goldstein B. Methods Mol Biol. 2008;469:103-11. PMID: 19109706
Last Updated: 7/21/23