Skip to main content

Isaac K. O. Cann

Professor, Microbiology and Institute for Genomic Biology
Deputy Director, Energy Biosciences Institute
University of Illinois
127 West Gregory Drive M/C 630
Urbana, IL  61801

(217) 333-2090

Biographical Information

  • B.Sc (Hons) Animal Sciences, University of Ghana 1986
  • M.S. (Rumen Microbiology), Mie University, Japan, 1991
  • Ph.D. (Rumen Microbiology), Mie University, Japan, 1994
  • Postdoctoral (Anaerobic Microbiology), Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, 1994-1997


Archaea, together with Bacteria and Eukarya, constitute the three domains of life. In each domain, DNA replication is the process by which members transfer genetic information to offspring to ensure continuity of their lineage. Replication requires a large number of proteins working in concert to faithfully copy the genome, although a level of mutation that leads to either a selective advantage or disadvantage is tolerated. DNA replication is quite well understood in bacteria, but less understood in eukaryotes. Archaea were only discovered in the 1980’s and therefore we know very little of how they replicate their genomes. My lab is interested in assembling the DNA replication apparatus of archaea in vitro. This research theme was motivated by the fascinating discovery that archaeal organisms contain genes coding for proteins with striking similarities to eukaryotic replication proteins. However, the architecture of the archaeal proteins is simpler than the eukaryotic ones. Our ability to assemble an archaeal DNA replication apparatus will therefore not only provide insight into how the genomes in the most recently discovered domain of life are replicated, but will also serve to enhance our understanding of eukaryotic DNA replication including that of humans.

Selected Publications

  1. I.K.O. Cann. 2008. Cell sorting protein homologs reveal an unusual diversity in archaeal cell division. Proc. Natl Acad Sci. USA. 105: 18653-18654
  2. Y.H. Chen, Y. Lin, A. Yoshinaga, B. Chhotani, J.L. Lorenzini, A.A. Crofts, S. Mei, R.I. Mackie, Y. Ishino, and I.K.O. Cann. 2009. Molecular analyses of a three-subunit euryarchaeal clamp loader complex from Methanosarcina acetivorans. J. Bacteriol. 191: 6539-6549.
  3. B. Bae, Y.H. Chen, A. Costa, S. Onesti, J.S. Brunzelle, Y. Lin, I.K.O. Cann, and S.K. Nair. 2009. Insights into the architecture of the replicative helicase from the structure of an archaeal MCM homolog. Structure: 17: 211-222.
  4. D. Dodd, Y.H. Moon, K. Swaminathan, R.I. Mackie, and I.K.O. Cann. Transcriptomic analyses of xylan degradation by Prevotella bryantii and insights into energy acquisition by xylanolytic Bacteroidetes. J. Biol. Chem. Epub.
  5. C.J. Yeomans, Y. Han, D. Dodd, C.M. Schroeder, R.I. Mackie, and I.K.O. Cann. 2010. Thermostable enzymes as biocatalysts in the biofuel industry. Adv. Appl. Microbiol. 70:1-55.
  6. X. Su, V. Agarwal, D. Dodd, B. Bae, R.I. Mackie, S.K. Nair, and I.K.O. Cann. 2010. Mutational insights into the roles of amino acid residues in ligand binding for two closely related family 16 carbohydrate binding modules. J. Biol. Chem. Epub.