Johnson Mak

Full Name: Professor Johnson Mak
Position Title: Chair in Infectious Diseases

+61 3 522 72120
+61 3 522 75062
+61 4 3956 2574

Campus: CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory


HIV and emerging viruses

Research overview

HIV is one of the most devastating viral pathogens in human history. The abilities of this virus to diversify rapidly, to hijack host cell machineries and to hide itself from the host cell immune surveillance make it extremely difficult to eradicate from the infected host. Our lab uses a combination of molecular virology, cell biology and protein biochemistry approaches to investigate this deadly pathogen, through basic research with the ultimate goal being the development of effective prevention and treatment of HIV infection. Furthermore, our lab also applies our expertise in HIV biology to investigate the biology of emerging viral pathogens within the context of biosecurity.





Figure 1: Infection of human
T-lymphocytes with green and red fluorescent HIV.










Figure 2: Electron micrograph of infectious HIV particles.







Research Projects

  1. To delineate the process of how HIV diversify and to evolve

  2. To determine how HIV manipulate host cell factors to establish infection and to propagate

  3. To identify determinant that regulates HIV latency

  4. To investigate the biology of emerging viral pathogens



Professor Mak completed his PhD in 1996 with Prof Lawrence Kleiman, in the field of Molecular Virology at McGill University Montreal, Canada. On completion, he accepted an invitation to set up a research group within the AIDS Pathogenesis Research Unit at the Burnet Institute, under the leadership of Professor Suzanne Crowe. During his time at the Burnet, he has consistently secured research funding from both national and international sources and published in a number of prestigious journals contributing to the field of retroviral assembly. He has a keen interest in the development of novel approaches to dissect the biology of HIV, and more recently, he has applied some of these techniques to delineate the early steps (uncoating) of HIV replication. He has been a recipient of various prestigious fellowships, including Canadian NHRDP, NHMRC Peter Doherty, Monash Logan, Pfizer Foundation and ARC Future fellowships. He has also maintained a teaching commitment in the Departments of Microbiology and Immunology, Monash University. In 2011, Johnson has accepted the Chair in Infectious Diseases Position within the School of Medicine at Deakin University and moved his laboratory to be based at the CSIRO AAHL campus in Geelong.


Selected Recent Publications

Schlub TE, Smyth RP, Grimm A, Mak J* and Davenport MP*. 2010 Accurately measuring recombination between closely related HIV genomes. PLoS Computational Biology 6 (4) e1000766. TES and RPS contributed equally to this work; JM and MPD are co-corresponding authors of this work.

Jones KL, Roche M, Gantier MP, Begum NA, Honjo T, Caradonna S, Williams BRG and Mak J. 2010 X4 and R5 HIV-1 have distinct post-entry requirements for uracil DNA glycoslase during infection of primary cells. Journal of Biological Chemistry 285 (24) 18603-14.

 Smyth RP, Schlub TE, Grimm A, Venturi V, Chopra A, Mallal S, Davenport MP* and Mak J* 2010 Reducing chimera formation during PCR amplification to ensure accurate genotyping. Gene469 (1) 45-51. JM and MPD are co-corresponding authors of this work

Pereira CF, Ellenberg PC, Jones KL, Fernandez TL, Smyth RP, Hawkes DJ, Hijnen M, Vivet-Boudou V, Marquet R, Johnson I and Mak J. 2011 Labelling of multiple HIV-1 proteins with the biarsenical-tetracysteine system PLoS One 6 (2) e0017016.

Harman AN, Lai J, Turville S, Samarajiwa S, Gray L, Marsden V, Mercier S, Jones KL, Nasr N, Cumming H, Donaghy H, Mak J, Churchill M, Hertzog P and Cunningham AL 2011 HIV infection of dendritic cells subverts the interferon induction pathway via IRF1 and inhibits Type 1 interferon production Blood118: 293-308.


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