University of Southern California

USC Neuroscience

Cheryl M. Craft


Mary D. Allen Chair in Vision Research, Doheny Eye Institute
Professor, Ophthalmology and Cell and Neurobiology
Founding Chair, Department of Cell and Neurobiology (1994 - 2004)

Research Topics

  1. Molecular Neurobiology
  2. Gene regulation
  3. Genetics of inherited blindness
  4. Visual Arrestins
  5. Photoreceptor G-protein coupled receptor
  6. Cone phototransduction
  7. Knockout Mice Models

Research Overview

The endowed Mary D. Allen (MDA) Laboratory for Vision Research, Doheny Eye Institute, was established in 1994 to focus on molecular and cell biology of inherited forms of blindness, including age related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. Dr. Cheryl M. Craft and her research team investigate retinal photoreceptors in health and disease, including examining susceptibility/resistant modulators essential for maintaining sight. The NEI/NIH funded research program focuses on the mechanisms involved in cone pigment G-protein signal transduction shutoff pathways and synaptic regulation of the SNARE complex:

(1) With the identification of a superfamily of arrestin proteins (Craft, Whitmore, and Wiechmann, 1994; Craft and Whitmore, 1995), visual arrestins are critical players in cone pigment photoreceptor signaling. Arrestin1 mutations are responsible for a form of retinitis pigmentosa, known as Oguchi's Disease. Our discovering of a second visual arrestin in cones now focuses on current research with mouse models to analyze the gene structure and potential function. In parallel to basic transcriptional regulation experiments, series of genetic visual arrestin knockouts are used to examine the electrophysiological, biochemical and morphological phenotypes of the cone transduction machinery without cone opsin regulators are ongoing (Nikonov et al., 2008, Brown et al., 2010, Huang et al., 2010). Current work identified novel synaptic interacting partners of Arrestin1, including NSF, an ATPase regulating exocytosis in the photoreceptor (Huang et al., 2010).

(2) Dr. Craft's group works with gene regulation of the retinal knockout models using Affymetrix Gene Chip technology to examine the complex interacting networks and pathways that regulate and modulate differentiation and retinal degeneration that may be essential for photoreceptor survival (Yetemian et al., 2010; Huang et al., submitted).

(3) Dr. Craft developed a retinal yeast two-hybrid library screening technology and discovered protein partners for visual arrestins, including Als2cr4, a novel tetraspanin protein involved in ciliogenesis and protein transport in the photoreceptor and horizontal cell (Zuniga and Craft, 2010).

Contact Information

Web Site:
Home Page
Mailing Address:
Division of Retinal Molecular Biology
1355 San Pablo Street, DVRC 405
Los Angeles, CA 90033-9224
Office Location:
Doheny Vision RC 405A
Office Phone:
(323) 442-6692
Lab Location:
Doheny Vision RC 405-408
Lab Phone:
(323) 442-6693/6695
(323) 442-6744


  • B.S., Valdosta State University, 1969.
  • Teaching Certificate, Eastern KY University, 1971.
  • Ph.D., Univ. TX. Biomedical Graduate School of San Antonio, TX, 1984.
  • Post-Doctoral NSRA Fellowship, NIH-NEI and NIH-NICHD, 1984-1986

Research Images

Selected Publications

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Huang SP, Brown BM, Craft CM. (2010) Visual arrestin 1 acts as a modulator for
N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor in the photoreceptor synapse. J Neurosci. 2010
Jul 14;30(28):9381-91. -PubMed

Brown BM, Ramirez T, Rife L, Craft CM. (2010) Visual Arrestin 1 contributes to cone
photoreceptor survival and light adaptation. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2010 May;51(5):2372-80. Epub 2009 Dec 17. -PubMed

Zuniga FI, Craft CM.(2010) Deciphering the Structure and Function of Als2cr4 in the
Mouse Retina. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2010 Apr 7. [Epub ahead of print] -PubMed

Nikonov SS, Brown BM, Davis JA, Zuniga FI, Bragin A, Pugh EN Jr, Craft CM. (2008) Mouse cones require an arrestin for normal inactivation of phototransduction. Neuron. 2008 Aug 14;59(3):462-74.

Jammoul F, D├ęgardin J, Pain D, Gondouin P, Simonutti M, Dubus E, Caplette R,
Fouquet S, Craft CM, Sahel JA, Picaud S.(2010)
Taurine deficiency damages
photoreceptors and retinal ganglion cells in vigabatrin-treated neonatal rats. Mol Cell Neurosci. 2010 Apr;43(4):414-21. Epub 2010 Feb 1. PMC2864319. -PubMed

Inoue T, Coles BL, Dorval K, Bremner R, Bessho Y, Kageyama R, Hino S, Matsuoka
M, Craft CM, McInnes RR, Tremblay F, Prusky GT, van der Kooy D.(2010)
functional photoreceptor differentiation from adult human retinal stem cells. Stem Cells. 2010 Mar 31;28(3):489-500. -PubMed

Zhu X, Brown B, Li A, Mears AJ, Swaroop A, Craft CM. (2003) GRK1-dependent phosphorylation of S and M opsins and their binding to cone arrestin during cone phototransduction in the mouse retina. Neurosci. 23(14):6152-60. -PubMed

Wang QP, Jammoul F, Duboc A, Gong J, Simonutti M, Dubus E, Craft CM, Ye W,
Sahel JA, Picaud S. (2008)
Treatment of epilepsy: the GABA-transaminase inhibitor,
vigabatrin, induces neuronal plasticity in the mouse retina. Eur J Neurosci. 2008 Apr;27(8):2177-87. -PubMed

Nikonov SS, Daniele LL, Zhu X, Craft CM, Swaroop A, Pugh EN Jr. (2005) Photoreceptors of Nrl -/- mice coexpress functional S- and M-cone opsinshaving istinct inactivation mechanisms. J Gen Physiol. 125(3):287-304. -PubMed

Pickrell SW, Zhu X, Wang X, Craft CM. (2004) Deciphering the contribution of known cis-elements in the mouse cone arrestin to its cone-specific expression. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 45(11):3877-84. -PubMed