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Sherwood Casjens

Adjunct Professor Emeritus of Biology and Professor of Pathology

Phone: 801-581-5980

Research Statement

The Casjens laboratory is studying three rather different areas: (1) the genetic control of the assembly of virus particles, (2) modular evolution of bacteriophage genomes, and (3) genome structure and replication of the Lyme disease causing bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi and its relationship to other bacterial genomes. The work on virus assembly is concentrated on genetic and biochemical analysis of the five proteins that are necessary for packaging a DNA molecule into bacteriophage P22 virions. Two of these are structural components the virion, two comprise the molecular motor that recognizes and drives DNA it into the preformed capsid, and another is required catalytically to build the capsid. Current work on the Lyme pathogen involves comparison of 23 complete genome sequences.

Selected Publications

  • Qiu, W., Schutzer, S., Bruno, J., Attie, O., Xu, J., Dunn, J., Fraser, C., Casjens, S., and Luft, B. (2004). Recombination and plasmid transfer among Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto lineages revealed by three-way genome comparisons and multi-locus sequence typing. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA 101: 14150-14155.
  • Lander, G., Tang, L., Casjens, S., Gilcrease, E., Prevelige, P., Poliakov, A., Potter, C., Carragher, B., and Johnson, J. (2006). The structure of an infectious P22 virion shows the signal for headful DNA packaging. Science, 312: 1791-1795.
  • Stewart, C., Houtz, J., Smith, A., Ford, M., Peebles, C., Casjens, S., Hatfull, G., Hendrix, R., Huang, W., and Pedulla, M. (2009). The Genome of Bacillus subtilis Bacteriophage SPO1 J. Mol. Biol. 388: 48-70.
  • Wywial E., Haven, J., Singh, S., Casjens, S., Mongodin, E., Fraser, C., Luff, B., Schutzer, S., and Qi, W. (2009). Fast, adaptive evolution at the a bacterial host-resistance locus: the PFam54 gene array in Borrelia burgdorferi. Gen 445: 26-37.
  • Bhardwaj, A., Walker-Kopp, N., Casjens, S. and Cingolani, G. (2009). An evolutionarily conserved family of virion tail needles related to bacteriophage P22 gp26: correlation between structural stability and length of the a-helical trimeric coiled-coil. J. Mol. Biol., 391: 227-245.