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

  • ElInati E, Russell HR, Ojarikre OA, Sangrithi M, Hirota T, de Rooij DG, McKinnon PJ, Turner JMA. DNA damage response protein TOPBP1 regulates X chromosome silencing in the mammalian germ line. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Nov 21;114(47):12536-12541. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1712530114. Epub 2017 Nov 7. PubMed PMID: 29114052; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5703310.
  • Drosos Y, Escobar D, Chiang MY, Roys K, Valentine V, Valentine MB, Rehg JE, Sahai V, Begley LA, Ye J, Paul L, McKinnon PJ, Sosa-Pineda B. ATM-deficiency increases genomic instability and metastatic potential in a mouse model of pancreatic cancer. Sci Rep. 2017 Sep 11;7(1):11144. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-11661-8. PubMed PMID: 28894253; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5593966.
  • Dyer LM, Kepple JD, Ai L, Kim WJ, Stanton VL, Reinhard MK, Backman LRF, Streitfeld WS, Babu NR, Treiber N, Scharffetter-Kochanek K, McKinnon PJ, Brown KD. ATM is required for SOD2 expression and homeostasis within the mammary gland. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2017 Dec;166(3):725-741. doi: 10.1007/s10549-017-4424-0. Epub 2017 Aug 28. PubMed PMID: 28849346.
  • McKinnon PJ. Genome integrity and disease prevention in the nervous system. Genes Dev. 2017 Jun 15;31(12):1180-1194. doi: 10.1101/gad.301325.117. Review. PubMed PMID: 28765160; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5558921.
  • Canela A, Maman Y, Jung S, Wong N, Callen E, Day A, Kieffer-Kwon KR, Pekowska A, Zhang H, Rao SSP, Huang SC, Mckinnon PJ, Aplan PD, Pommier Y, Aiden EL, Casellas R, Nussenzweig A. Genome Organization Drives Chromosome Fragility. Cell. 2017 Jul 27;170(3):507-521.e18. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.06.034. Epub 2017 Jul 20. PubMed PMID: 28735753.
  • Chiang SC, Meagher M, Kassouf N, Hafezparast M, McKinnon PJ, Haywood R, El-Khamisy SF. Mitochondrial protein-linked DNA breaks perturb mitochondrial gene transcription and trigger free radical-induced DNA damage. Sci Adv. 2017 Apr 28;3(4):e1602506. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1602506. eCollection 2017 Apr. PubMed PMID: 28508041; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5409496.

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