Lawson, Catherine L.

Associate Research Professor

Catherine L. Lawson

Phone: 848-445-5494

E-mail: E-mail

FAX: 848-445-4320

Office: CIPR (Proteomics) room 109

Mail: Rutgers University/Proteomics, 174 Frelinghuysen Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854


Education and Prior Positions Links

Research Summary

My research explores the diverse landscape of biological structure-function relationships, with the goal of improving our fundamental understanding of life processes. My current projects involve structure database development (EMDataBank, Protein Data Bank), with particular emphasis on improving representation of large biological assemblies.

Combining X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy and bioinformatics methods enables novel analyses. At promoters such as lac and gal, the E. coli catabolite activator protein (CAP) recruits RNA polymerase to promoter DNA.  Below at left is our original model of a class I CAP-dependent transcription activation complex (Lawson et al., 2004), created by combining several individual X-ray structures with additional biochemical information about protein-DNA contacts. An experimental 3D map volume of this complex using single particle averaging of 2D electron microscopy images (Hudson et al., 2009) is shown at right.  The EM reconstruction and an improved model based on the map are deposited in the EM Data Bank (EMD-5127) and PDB (id 3iyd) respectively.


Class I Model Experimental EM Map
Class I CAP Model Class I CAP EM structure



View all publications (PubMed)

Selected Publications

  1. Henderson, R., Sali, A., Baker, M.L., Carragher, B., Devkota, B., Downing, K.H., Egelman, E.H., Feng, Z., Frank, J., Grigorieff, N., Jiang, W., Ludtke, S.J., Medalia, O., Penczek, P.A., Rosenthal, P.B., Rossmann, M.G., Schmid, M.F., Schroder, G.F., Steven, A.C., Stokes, D.L., Westbrook, J.D., Wriggers, W., Yang, H., Young, J., Berman, H.M., Chiu, W., Kleywegt, G.J., Lawson, C.L. (2012). Outcome of the first electron microscopy validation task force meeting. Structure 20, 205-214. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2011.12.014
  2. Carey, J., Benoff, B., Harish, B., Yuan, L., and Lawson, C.L. (2012). Environment-dependent long-range structural distortion in a temperature-sensitive point mutant. Protein science 21, 63-74. doi: 10.1002/pro.759 pdb: 3ssx,3ssw
  3. Lawson, C.L., Baker, M.L., Best, C., Bi, C., Dougherty, M., Feng, P., van Ginkel, G., Devkota, B., Lagerstedt, I., Ludtke, S.J., Newman, R.H., Oldfield, T.O., Rees, I., Sahni, G., Sala, R., Velankar, S., Warren, J., Westbrook, J.D., Henrick, K., Kleywegt, G.J., Berman, H.M., Chiu, W. (2011). unified data resource for CryoEM. Nucleic Acids Res 39, D456-464. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkq880
  4. Lara-Gonzalez, S., Birktoft, J. J., Lawson, C. L. (2010) Structure of the Escherichia coli RNA polymerase alpha subunit C-terminal domain. Acta Cryst. D-Biological Crystallography 66, 806-812. doi:10.1107/S0907444910018470 pdb:3k4g 
  5. Hudson, B. P., Quispe, J., Lara-Gonzalez, S., Berman, H. M., Arnold, E., Ebright, R.H. & Lawson C. L. (2009). Three-dimensional EM Structure of an intact activator-dependent transcription initiation complex. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA. 106, 19830-5,EMDB: EMD-5127, PDB:3iyd
  6. Locasale, J. W., Napoli, A. A., Chen, S., Berman, H.M., & Lawson, C. L. (2009). Signatures of protein-DNA recognition in free DNA binding sites, J. Mol. Biol. 386, 1054-1065, PDB:1hq7,2b1b,2b1c,2b1d.
  7. Lawson, C.L., Dutta, S., Westbrook, J.D., Henrick, K. & Berman, H.M. (2008) Representation of Viruses in the Remediated PDB archive. Acta Cryst D 64:874-882.
  8. Napoli, A.A., Lawson, C.L., Ebright, R.H. & Berman, H.M. (2006) Indirect readout of DNA sequence at the primary-kink site in the CAP-DNA complex: recognition of pyrimidine-purine and purine-purine steps. J Mol Biol. 357:173-83. PDB: 1zrc, 1zre, 1zrf.
  9. Lawson, C.L., Yung, B.H., Barbour, A.G. and Zückert, W.R. (2006) Crystal structure of neurotropism-associated variable surface protein 1 (Vsp1) of Borrelia turicatae. J Bacteriol 188:4522-30 (2006).
  10. C. Lawson, B. Benoff, T. Berger, H. Berman, J. Carey (2004) E. coli trp repressor forms a domain-swapped array in aqueous alcohol. Structure 12(6):1099-108 (2004)
  11. Lawson, C.L., Swigon, D., Murakami, K., Darst, S., Berman, H.M., Ebright, R.H. (2004) Catabolite Activator Protein: DNA bending and transcription activation. Current Opinion in Structural Biology 14, 10-20.