David Williams Headshot

David S. Williams, Ph.D.


(310) 825-9546

Department of Ophthalmology 200 Stein Plaza, 3-640 DSERC Los Angeles, CA 90095-7000 (Campus Mail Code 700019)


Dr. Williams’ laboratory focuses on the cell biology of photoreceptor and RPE cells. His group is especially interested in cell biological studies of the retina in relation to retinal function and inherited retinal disease. Basic science investigations in the laboratory include identifying how proteins and organelles are transported and targeted within the photoreceptor and RPE cells. The identification of roles of different motor proteins has advanced the molecular understanding of cellular events, such as disk membrane renewal and associated retinal disease. The laboratory is also interested in the translation of basic science of the retina to clinical research. Basic studies on myosin VIIa, an unconventional actin-based motor protein, have enabled the establishment of assays for use in preclinical studies on gene therapy for a type of Usher syndrome, an inherited eye disorder that involves both deafness and retinal degeneration. Studies with mutant mice have also led to the development of useful models for retinal degeneration, including age-related macular degeneration.


Stefanie Volland, Louise C. Hughes, Christina Kong, Barry L. Burgess, Kenneth A. Linberg, Gabriel Luna, Z. Hong Zhou, Steven K. Fisher and David S. Williams Three-dimensional organization of nascent rod outer segment disk membranes, PNAS

Jiang Mei, Esteve-Rudd Julian, Lopes Vanda S, Diemer Tanja, Lillo Concepción, Rump Agrani, Williams David S Microtubule motors transport phagosomes in the RPE, and lack of KLC1 leads to AMD-like pathogenesis The Journal of cell biology, 2015; 210(4): 595-611.

Volland Stefanie, Esteve-Rudd Julian, Hoo Juyea, Yee Claudine, Williams David S A comparison of some organizational characteristics of the mouse central retina and the human macula PloS one, 2015; 10(4): e0125631.

Frost Laura S, Lopes Vanda S, Bragin Alvina, Reyes-Reveles Juan, Brancato Jennifer, Cohen Art, Mitchell Claire H, Williams David S, Boesze-Battaglia Kathleen The Contribution of Melanoregulin to Microtubule-Associated Protein 1 Light Chain 3 (LC3) Associated Phagocytosis in Retinal Pigment Epithelium Molecular neurobiology, 2014; .

Crouse Jacquelin A, Lopes Vanda S, Sanagustin Jovenal T, Keady Brian T, Williams David S, Pazour Gregory J Distinct functions for IFT140 and IFT20 in opsin transport Cytoskeleton (Hoboken, N.J.), 2014; 71(5): 302-10.

Almenar-Queralt Angels, Falzone Tomas L, Shen Zhouxin, Lillo Concepcion, Killian Rhiannon L, Arreola Angela S, Niederst Emily D, Ng Kheng S, Kim Sonia N, Briggs Steven P, Williams David S, Goldstein Lawrence S B UV irradiation accelerates amyloid precursor protein (APP) processing and disrupts APP axonal transport The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 2014; 34(9): 3320-39.

Lopes VS, Boye SE, Louie CM, Boye S, Dyka F, Chiodo V, Fofo H, Hauswirth WW, Williams DS Retinal gene therapy with a large MYO7A cDNA using Adeno-associated virus Gene Therapy, 2013; .

Harkewicz R, Du H, Tong Z, Alkuraya H, Bedell M, Sun W, Wang X, Hsu YH, Esteve-Rudd J, Hughes G, Su Z, Zhang M, Lopes VS, Molday RS, Williams DS, Dennis EA, Zhang K Essential role of ELOVL4 in very long chain fatty acid synthesis and retinal function Journal of Biological Chemistry , 2012; 287: 11469-11480.

Engelhardt M, Tosha C, Lopes VS, Chen B, Nguyen L, Nusinowitz S, Williams DS Functional and morphological analysis of the subretinal injection of RPE cells Visual Neuroscience, 2012; 29: 83-93.

Trivedi D, Colin E, Louie CM, Williams DS Live-cell imaging evidence for the ciliary transport of rod photoreceptor opsin by heterotrimeric kinesin-2 Journal of Neuroscience, 2012; 32: 10587-10593.

Da Cruz Sandrine, Parone Philippe A, Lopes Vanda S, Lillo Concepción, McAlonis-Downes Melissa, Lee Sandra K, Vetto Anne P, Petrosyan Susanna, Marsala Martin, Murphy Anne N, Williams David S, Spiegelman Bruce M, Cleveland Don W Elevated PGC-1α activity sustains mitochondrial biogenesis and muscle function without extending survival in a mouse model of inherited ALS Cell metabolism, 2012; 15(5): 778-86.

Phillips JB, Blanco-Sanchez B, Lentz JJ, Tallafuss A, Khanobdee K, Sampath S, Jacobs ZG, Han PF, Mishra M, Williams DS, Keats BJ, Washbourne P, Westerfield M Harmonin (Ush1c) is required in zebrafish Muller glial cells for photoreceptor synaptic development and function Disease Models & Mechanisms , 2011; 4: 786-800.

Jacobson SG, Cideciyan AV, Gibbs D, Sumaroka A, Roman AJ, Aleman TS, Schwartz SB, Olivares MB, Russell RC, Steinberg JD, Kenna MA, Kimberling WJ, Rehm HL, Williams DS Retinal Disease Course in Usher Syndrome 1B due to MYO7A Mutations Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 2011; 52: 7924-7936.

Lopes VS, Gibbs D, Libby RT, Aleman TS, Welch DL, Lillo C, Jacobson SG, Radu RA, Steel KP, Williams DS The Usher 1B protein, MYO7A, is required for normal localization and function of the visual retinoid cycle enzyme, RPE65 Human Molecular Genetics, 2011; 20: 2560-2570.

Williams DS, Lopes VS The many different cellular functions of MYO7A in the retina Biochemical Society transactions, 2011; 39: 1207-10.

Louie CM, Caridi G, Lopes VS, Brancati F, Kispert A, Lancaster MA, Schlossman AM, Otto EA, Leitges M, Grone HJ, Lopez I, Gudiseva HV, O’Toole JF, Vallespin E, Ayyagari R, Ayuso C, Cremers FP, den Hollander Al, Koenekoop RK, Dallapiccola B, Ghiggeri GM, Hildebrandt F, Valente EM, Williams DS, Gleeson JG AHI1 is required for photoreceptor outer segment development and is a modifier for retinal degeneration in nephronophthisis Nature Genetics , 2010; 42: 175-180.

Lopes VS, Jimeno D, Khanobdee K, Song X, Chen B, Nusinowitz S, Williams DS Dysfunction of Heterotrimeric Kinesin-2 in Rod Photoreceptor Cells and the Role of Opsin Mislocalization in Rapid Cell Death Molecular Biology of the Cell, 2010; 21: 4076-4088.

Gibbs D, Diemer T, Khanobdee K, Hu J, Bok D, Williams DS Function of MYO7A in the human RPE and the validity of shaker1 mice as a model for Usher syndrome 1B Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 2010; 51: 1130-1135.

Liao JL,Yu J, Huang K, Hu J, Diemer T, Ma Z, Dvash T, Yang XJ, Travis GH, Williams DS, Bok D, Fan G Molecular signature of primary retinal pigment epithelium and stem-cell-derived RPE cells Human Molecular Genetics , 2010; 19: 4229-4238.

Louie Carrie M, Caridi Gianluca, Lopes Vanda S, Brancati Francesco, Kispert Andreas, Lancaster Madeline A, Schlossman Andrew M, Otto Edgar A, Leitges Michael, Gröne Hermann-Josef, Lopez Irma, Gudiseva Harini V, O’Toole John F, Vallespin Elena, Ayyagari Radha, Ayuso Carmen, Cremers Frans P M, den Hollander Anneke I, Koenekoop Robert K, Dallapiccola Bruno, Ghiggeri Gian Marco, Hildebrandt Friedhelm, Valente Enza Maria, Williams David S, Gleeson Joseph G AHI1 is required for photoreceptor outer segment development and is a modifier for retinal degeneration in nephronophthisis Nature genetics, 2010; 42(2): 175-80.

Williams David S, Cash Alan, Hamadani Lara, Diemer Tanja Oxaloacetate supplementation increases lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans through an AMPK/FOXO-dependent pathway Aging cell, 2009; 8(6): 765-8.

Gibbs Daniel, Cideciyan Artur V, Jacobson Samuel G, Williams David S Retinal pigment epithelium defects in humans and mice with mutations in MYO7A: imaging melanosome-specific autofluorescence Investigative ophthalmology & visual science, 2009; 50(9): 4386-93.

Schwander M, Lopes V, Sczaniecka A, Gibbs D, Lillo C, Delano D, Tarantino LM, Wiltshire T, Williams DS, Müller U A novel allele of myosin VIIa reveals a critical function for the C-terminal FERM domain for melanosome transport in retinal pigment epithelial cells Journal of Neuroscience, 2009; 29: 15810-15818.

Falzone Tomás L, Stokin Gorazd B, Lillo Concepción, Rodrigues Elizabeth M, Westerman Eileen L, Williams David S, Goldstein Lawrence S B Axonal stress kinase activation and tau misbehavior induced by kinesin-1 transport defects The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 2009; 29(18): 5758-67.

Damek-Poprawa Monika, Diemer Tanja, Lopes Vanda S, Lillo Concepción, Harper Dawn C, Marks Michael S, Wu Yalin, Sparrow Janet R, Rachel Rivka A, Williams David S, Boesze-Battaglia Kathleen Melanoregulin (MREG) modulates lysosome function in pigment epithelial cells The Journal of biological chemistry, 2009; 284(16): 10877-89.

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