Cheryl Mae Craft

Affiliated Faculty

Director, USC Postdoctoral Scholars Program
Professor, Ophthalmology and Cell and Neurobiology
Founding Chair, Department of Cell and Neurobiology (1994 - 2004)

Cheryl Mae Craft

Research Topics

  • Molecular Neurobiology
  • Gene regulation
  • Genetics of inherited blindness
  • Visual Arrestins
  • Photoreceptor G-protein coupled receptor
  • Cone phototransduction
  • Knockout Mice Models

Research Images

Mary D. Allen Lab in Vision Research Team 2006 - 2007.Immunocytochemistry of visual arrestins in rods and cones.  Both Arrestin1 and Cone Arrestin immunoreactive proteins identified with LUMINAIRE antibodies are distributed throughout the cones.  Journal of Neuroscience Morphology and Expression of Arrestin1 and Cone Arrestin in Knockout Mice Retinas in Cone Photoreceptors with Dual Immunocytochemistry (Green = LUMIj, Red =Arr1, Blue=DAPI).

Research Overview

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). Currently, we are exploring cone dystrophy in older mice when the visual cone arrestin is knocked out and the postsynaptic pathways leading to defects in visual acuity and contrast sensitivity.(Craft and Deming, 2014, Deming et al., submitted)

(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

Mailing Address Division of Retinal Molecular Biology
Institute for Genetic Medicine,
2250 Alcazar Street, CSA215
Office: CSC 135H
Los Angeles, CA 90033-9075
Office Location IGM, CSC 135H
Office Phone (323) 442-6692
Lab Location IGM, CSA 215
Lab Phone (323) 442-6693/6695
Fax (323) 442-6744
Office Location IGM, CSC 135H


  • 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

Selected Publications

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  • Berkowitz, B. A., Gorgis, J., Patel, A., Baameur, F., Gurevich, V. V., Craft, C. M. Kefalov, V. J. and Roberts, R. Development of an MRI Biomarker Sensitive to Tetrameric Visual Arrestin 1 and its Reduction via Light-Evoked Translocation In Vivo. In press: The FASEB Journal FASEBJ/2014/254953
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Jammoul F, Dégardin 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