Harold P. Erickson

Harold Erickson

Harold P. Erickson, Ph.D. (Johns Hopkins University)

James B. Duke Professor of Cell Biology
Professor of Biochemistry

Programs: Cell and Molecular Biology, Structural Biology and Biophysics

E-mail: harold.erickson@duke.edu














Cytoskeleton: A major research interest has been the cytoskeleton, in particular microtubules in eukaryotes, and the bacterial tubulin homolog FtsZ. Highlights of our research have been reconstituting FtsZ-rings in liposomes and the demonstration that FtsZ alone can generate a constriction force (Ozawa 2008, 2013); a computer model that explains both treadmilling and nucleation of FtsZ protofilaments based on GTP hydrolysis and the R to T conformational change (Corbin 2020); a perspective linking microtubule growth to the single protofilaments of FtsZ (Erickson 2019).

Irisin: We believe the irisin story is bunk. Irisin was proposed in 2012 as a novel myokine, secreted by muscle cells in response to exercise, it induces the transformation of white fat to brown fat. This inspired hopes of an exercise pill that might correct obesity and other metabolic disorders. We have argued that the original discovery was flawed in several respects (Erickson, Adipocyte, 2013), and that the 1,000+ published follow-up studies are based on flawed commercial antibodies (Albrecht et al, Sci Rep 2015). Our recent review (Maak et al, Endoc Rev 2021) expands these critiques, adds new ones, and suggests that gene knockouts will help resolve controversies.

Sars-CoV-2: Several labs have developed antibody mimics that bind the spike protein, and then incorporated these into dimers and trimers that were designed to bind multivalently to the trimeric spike. We found that the linkers connecting the Nbs are too short to span the distance. We suggest an alternative mechanism for the modest (modest) enhanced avidity (Erickson and Corbin, 2022)

Principles of Protein-Protein Association, Erickson 2019: This ebook, published by IOP press and available to many institutions with a subscription, provides basic principles and discussion of seminal papers. It is suitable for a short course, or for individual learning.


Recent Publications: Click here for a full list of publications and many PDFs.

Erickson HP, Corbin Goodman L. Recently Designed Multivalent Spike Binders Cannot Bind Multivalently – How Do They Achieve Enhanced Avidity to SARS-CoV-2 Biochemistry. 62(2):163-168. 2023

Corbin Goodman LC, Erickson HP. FtsZ at mid-cell is essential in Escherichia coli until the late stage of constriction. Microbiology 168(6). 2022

Erickson HP. How Teichoic Acids Could Support a Periplasm in Gram-Positive Bacteria, and Let Cell Division Cheat Turgor Pressure. Front Microbiol. 12:664704. 2021

Maak S, Norheim F, Drevon CA, Erickson HP. Progress and Challenges in the Biology of FNDC5 and Irisin. Endocr Rev. 42(4):436-456. 2021

Corbin LC, Erickson HP. A Unified Model for Treadmilling and Nucleation of Single-Stranded FtsZ Protofilaments. Biophys J. 119(4):792-805. 2020

Erickson HP. How bacterial cell division might cheat turgor pressure - a unified mechanism of septal division in Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Bioessays. 39(8). 2017