John C. Herr

Primary Appointment

  • Professor, Cell Biology


Research Interest(s)

Cancer-Testis Antigens in Lung, Head and Neck, and Melanoma Tumors; Pre-Positioning of RNAs and RNA Binding Proteins in the Mammalian Oocyte and Early Embryo; Autoimmunity to Sperm Antigens Following Vasectomy.

Research Description

Dr. Herr is a reproductive and developmental cell biologist. His research focuses on the genes and proteins that are expressed specifically in the sperm and in the egg. His laboratory studies sperm proteins involved in motility, capacitation, fertilization, and egg proteins involved in early embryogenesis, particularly RNA binding proteins involved in pre-patterning. His laboratory studies not only the fundamental process of gamete development and fertilization but also applies the knowledge to practical applications. One interest is to identify tumors that revert to the gametogenic pathway and to define biomarkers of use in cancer diagnosis and drug therapy. Another aim is to identify targets for contraceptive vaccines and small molecule antagonists. Patented inventions from Dr. Herr include: 1) A new spermicide based on antibodies to the human sperm surface; 2) A contraceptive vaccine for women comprised of proteins from the sperm membranes; 3) SpermCheck®, the home test for determining male fertility; 4) SpermPaints®, a test for semen developed for the National Institute of Justice to use in sexual assault cases; and 5)the squamous cell carcinoma tumor marker, CABYR.

Selected Publications

  • Pires E, Hlavin C, Macnamara E, Ishola-Gbenla K, Doerwaldt C, Chamberlain C, Klotz K, Herr A, Khole A, Chertihin O, Curnow E, Feldman S, Mandal A, Shetty J, Flickinger C, Herr J. SAS1B protein [ovastacin] shows temporal and spatial restriction to oocytes in several eutherian orders and initiates translation at the primary to secondary follicle transition. Developmental dynamics : an official publication of the American Association of Anatomists. 2013;242(12): 1405-26. PMID: 24038607 | PMCID: PMC4091973
  • Shumilin I, Cymborowski M, Chertihin O, Jha K, Herr J, Lesley S, Joachimiak A, Minor W. Identification of unknown protein function using metabolite cocktail screening. Structure (London, England : 1993). 2012;20(10): 1715-25. PMID: 22940582 | PMCID: PMC3472112
  • Smith R, Lowe G, Kavoussi P, Steers W, Costabile R, Herr J, Shetty J, Lysiak J. Confocal fluorescence microscopy in a murine model of microdissection testicular sperm extraction to improve sperm retrieval. The Journal of urology. 2012;187(5): 1918-23. PMID: 22425054
  • Sachdev M, Mandal A, Mulders S, Digilio L, Panneerdoss S, Suryavathi V, Pires E, Klotz K, Hermens L, Herrero M, Flickinger C, van Duin M, Herr J. Oocyte specific oolemmal SAS1B involved in sperm binding through intra-acrosomal SLLP1 during fertilization. Developmental biology. 2011;363(1): 40-51. PMID: 22206759 | PMCID: PMC3307385
  • Zhang Z, Shen X, Gude D, Wilkinson B, Justice M, Flickinger C, Herr J, Eddy E, Strauss J. MEIG1 is essential for spermiogenesis in mice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2009;106(40): 17055-60. PMID: 19805151 | PMCID: PMC2746124
  • Jha K, Shumilin I, Digilio L, Chertihin O, Zheng H, Schmitz G, Visconti P, Flickinger C, Minor W, Herr J. Biochemical and structural characterization of apolipoprotein A-I binding protein, a novel phosphoprotein with a potential role in sperm capacitation. Endocrinology. 2008;149(5): 2108-20. PMID: 18202122 | PMCID: PMC2329272