Office: SCIE 2248
Lab: SCIE 2203
I received an extensive training in protein biochemistry while studying protein phophatases and toxins that inhibit them at the University of Alberta. Interactions among the Protein Structure and Function Group there exposed me to the deep field of contractile proteins in muscle. I put my expertise to good use as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University, where I studied the cytoskeletal protein actin while working with molecular motors. I discovered that actin is amazing! It is not only critical for muscle movement, but it is a major component of the cytoskeleton that defines the shape of our cells. Actin's most essential property is the ability to self-assemble into long polymers. These filaments form part of the structural framework of the cytoskeleton and are the tracks on which the molecular motor myosin runs in our muscles. Here at the University of Guelph, my research is focused on understanding and controlling actin polymerization and elucidating the biochemical links between mutations in actin and the development of cardiac disease.
B.Sc. (Hons) - Wilfrid Laurier
Ph.D. - Alberta
Postdoctoral Fellow - Stanford
Actin is the most abundant protein in our bodies. It is found in all our muscles, forming part of the machinery that converts the chemical energy from food into the mechanical energy of movement. But actin does more than just work in muscles; it is also found in every cell in our bodies, forming a network of filaments called the cytoskeleton that is a structural support for the cells.
The expertise in the Dawson lab is aimed at understanding the fundamental roles of actin on two fronts:
- How the structure of the actin protein dictates its function.
- How alterations in the actin protein is related to disease development.
Nine known variants of the human cardiac actin gene ACTC have been identified in patients with hypertrophic or dilated cardiomyopathy. In research funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, we are studying why mutations in the ACTC gene would lead to disease so that we can help fix the problem.
I am a member of the Canadian Society of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology (CSBMCB), the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), and the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE).
Pengelly, K., Loncar, A., Perieteanu, A.A., and Dawson, J.F. (2009) Cysteine Engineering of Actin Self-assembly Interfaces. Biochem. Cell Biol., 87: 663-675.
Perieteanu, A.A., Sweeting, B., and Dawson, J.F. (2008) The Real-Time Monitoring of the Thermal Unfolding of Tetramethylrhodamine Labeled Actin. Biochemistry, 47: 9688-96.
Ahmed, M.A., Bamm V.V., Shi, L., Steiner-Mosonyi, M., Dawson, J.F., Brown, L.S., Harauz. G., and Ladizhansky, V. (2008) Induced secondary structure and polymorphism in an intrinsically disordered structural linker of the central nervous system - Solid-state NMR and FTIR spectroscopy of 18.5 kDa myelin basic protein (MBP) bound to actin. Biophys J, 96:180-91
Morrison, S.S., and Dawson, J.F. (2007) A High-Throughput Assay Shows DNase-I Binds Actin Monomers and Polymers with Similar Affinity. Analytical Biochemistry 364: 159-164.
Teal, D.J., and Dawson, J.F. (2007) Yeast Actin with a Subdomain 4 Mutation (A204C) Exhibits Increased Pointed End Critical Concentration. Biochemistry and Cell Biology, 85: 319-325.
Yates, S.P., Otley, M.M., and Dawson, J.F. (2007) Overexpression of Cardiac Actin with Baculovirus is Promoter Dependent. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 466(1):58-65.
Sweeting, B., and Dawson, J.F. (2006) Purification and characterization of a nonpolymerizing long-pitch actin dimer. Biochemistry and Cell Biology 84: 695-702.
BIOC*2580 Introductory Biochemistry
A broad outline of biochemistry, with emphasis on protein and enzyme structure and function, and a brief introduction to energy metabolism.
2012 University of Guelph Faculty Association Distinguished Professorial Award, College of Biological Sciences
2006 Award for Excellence in Teaching, College of Biological Sciences
2006 Special Merit Award, University of Guelph Faculty Association
2007 Provost's Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, University of Guelph
Dawson, J.F. (2009) Does Providing Class Notes or PowerPoint Slides to Students Before Lectures Lead to Lower Class Attendance? Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Newsletter 51, p. 4.
Dawson, J.F. (2007) Electronic Publishing as a Course Context for a Capstone Project on Protein Design. Journal of Electronic Publishing, 10 (3), http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.3336451.0010.304
Dawson, J.F. (2006) Time on Writing Task and Overall Project Performance. Reflections & Directions, Winter 2006, University of Guelph 5(1), p. 3.
Dawson, J.F. (2003) No surprise, they cheated. Reflections & Directions, Fall 2003, University of Guelph 5(1), p. 5.
Chow, Melissa (M.Sc.)
Dahari, Marissa (M.Sc.)
Allard, Stephen (M.Sc.)
McRorie, Paul (M.Sc.)