John-Stephen Taylor

John-Stephen Taylor

​Professor of Chemistry
PhD, Columbia University
SB, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1134
    One Brookings Dr.
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

​Professor Taylor’s current research interests include bioorganic and nucleic acids chemistry, breast cancer imaging and chemotherapy, sunlight and skin cancer, and natural products inhibiting or activating heat shock proteins.

Professor Taylor's research on sunlight and skin cancer has shown that although many of the carcinogenic effects of sunlight can be attributed to DNA photoproducts, such as the cis-syn cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer (CPD), the factors governing the formation and biological activities of individual photoproducts are largely unknown. We are currently most interested in understanding a newly discovered “dark” or chemosensitization pathway (Fig. 1) to CPDs in melanocytes involving high energy dioxetanes. We are also studying what controls deamination of cis-syn cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers at CpG sites in nucleosome core particles as a model of chromatin (Fig. 2). We have also recently discovered a new photoproduct of human telomeric DNA which arises from G-quadruplex structures in vitro (Fig. 3) and have been investigating the possible roles of the photoproduct in vivo. This work involves computational chemistry, organic synthesis, synthesis of fluorescent probes, automated DNA synthesis, HPLC, 2D NMR, MALDI and ESI, radioactive labeling, gel electrophoresis, NextGen sequencing, cloning, protein expression, cell culture, and PCR.

Selected Publications

Effect of sequence and metal ions on UVB-induced anti cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer formation in human telomeric DNA sequences. Smith JE, Lu C, Taylor* JS. Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 5007-19.

Synergistic Modulation of Cyclobutane Pyrimidine Dimer Photoproduct Formation and Deamination at a TmCG Site Over a Full Helical DNA Turn in a Nucleosome Core Particle, Song, Q., Cannistraro, V. Taylor,* J.-S. Nucl. Acids Res. 2014, 13122-33.

Biomolecules. The dark side of sunlight and melanoma. JS Taylor* Science, 2015, 824.

Design, synthesis, and characterization of nucleosomes containing site-specific DNA damage, JS Taylor*, DNA Repair, 2015, 59-67.

Rapid deamination of cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer photoproducts at TCG sites in a translationally and rotationally positioned nucleosome in vivo.  Vincent J. Cannistraro, Santhi Pondugula, Qian Song, and John-Stephen Taylor*, J. Biol. Chem., 2015, 26597-609.

DNA bending modulated cis-syn cyclobutane thymidine dimer formation in T11-tracts in rotationally phased nucleosome core particles and a DNA mini-circle. Kesai Wang and Taylor,* J.S., Nucleic Acids Res. 2017, 7031-7041.

Photochemical evidence for the presence of a reverse-Hoogsteen hairpin structure in human telomeric DNA sequences, Lu, Chen; Smith, Jillian; Taylor,* J.S.  Photochem. Photobiol., 2018, in press. 

Awards & Honors

1975, Phi Beta Kappa, MIT

1976, Merck Index Award for Scholastic Excellence in Chemistry, MIT

1977, 1978, Teaching Award, Columbia University

1981, Pegram Award for Outstanding Graduate Work, Columbia University

1981 - 1983, Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Fund Fellow

1988 - 1990, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow

1993 - 2001, NIH Merit Award

1993, American Chemical Society St. Louis Award

2005-2007, Special Recognition for Excellence in Mentoring, Washington University