Dianna A. Johnson, Ph.D.

Dianna A. Johnson, Ph.D.

Department of Ophthalmology
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Hamilton Eye Institute
930 Madison Avenue, Suite 710
Memphis, TN 38163
Phone: (901) 448-1375
Fax: (901) 448-5028
Email: Dianna A. Johnson


  • Ph.D. Institution: University of Kansas, Lawrence, KSA
  • Postdoctoral:
    University of California, Irvine, CA

Research Interests

This laboratory focuses on studies of neurotransmitters in the retina and their general actions as molecular signals in the transmission of visual information. In addition, there is particular interest in what might be considered as special functions of transmitters, namely their role as developmental signals during early states of retina maturation and as signaling factors involved in certain retinal disease states. Based on their findings, it appears that GABA and glutamate are necessary for normal development of cone photoreceptor synaptic circuits in the outer plexiform layer in rabbit retina. Ongoing studies are examining the signaling transduction cascade involved in these developmental interactions.

Excitotoxic actions of glutamate have been well documented in virtually all types of nervous tissue including retina. It has been suggested that the loss of retinal neurons resulting from a variety of causes including ischemia, laser exposure, glaucoma and developmentally programmed cell death, may all involve a common pathway triggered by abnormal release of glutamate. In experiments utilizing both rabbit and human retinas, they are examining this hypothesis in order to determine the intra-cellular mechanisms involved and to test the efficacy of pharmacological agents in protecting against glutamate-induced cell death.

Recent Publications

  • Webb AH, Gao BT, Goldsmith ZK, Irvine AS, Saleh N, Lee RP, Lendermon JB, Bheemreddy R, Zhang Q, Brennan RC, Johnson D, Steinle JJ, Wilson MW, Morales-Tirado VM. Inhibition of MMP-2 and MMP-9 decreases cellular migration, and angiogenesis in in vitro models of retinoblastoma. BMC Cancer. 2017 Jun 20;17(1):434. doi: 10.1186/s12885-017-3418-y. PubMed PMID: 28633655; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5477686.
  • Aldiri I, Xu B, Wang L, Chen X, Hiler D, Griffiths L, Valentine M, Shirinifard A, Thiagarajan S, Sablauer A, Barabas ME, Zhang J, Johnson D, Frase S, Zhou X, Easton J, Zhang J, Mardis ER, Wilson RK, Downing JR, Dyer MA; St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital—Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project. The Dynamic Epigenetic Landscape of the Retina During Development, Reprogramming, and Tumorigenesis. Neuron. 2017 May 3;94(3):550-568.e10. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.04.022. PubMed PMID: 28472656; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5508517.
  • Ponnusamy S, Sullivan RD, You D, Zafar N, He Yang C, Thiyagarajan T, Johnson DL, Barrett ML, Koehler NJ, Star M, Stephenson EJ, Bridges D, Cormier SA, Pfeffer LM, Narayanan R. Androgen receptor agonists increase lean mass, improve cardiopulmonary functions and extend survival in preclinical models of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Hum Mol Genet. 2017 Jul 1;26(13):2526-2540. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddx150. PubMed PMID: 28453658.
  • Johnson DA, Katz PO, Armstrong D, Cohen H, Delaney BC, Howden CW, Katelaris P, Tutuian RI, Castell DO. The Safety of Appropriate Use of Over-the-Counter Proton Pump Inhibitors: An Evidence-Based Review and Delphi Consensus. Drugs. 2017 Apr;77(5):547-561. doi: 10.1007/s40265-017-0712-6. Review. PubMed PMID: 28233274; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5357248.
  • Hysmith ND, Kaplan EL, Cleary PP, Johnson DR, Penfound TA, Dale JB. Prospective Longitudinal Analysis of Immune Responses in Pediatric Subjects After Pharyngeal Acquisition of Group A Streptococci. J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc. 2017 Jun 1;6(2):187-196. doi: 10.1093/jpids/piw070. PubMed PMID: 28204534.
  • Jiang B, Ma S, Causey J, Qiao L, Hardin MP, Bitts I, Johnson D, Zhang S, Huang X. SparRec: An effective matrix completion framework of missing data imputation for GWAS. Sci Rep. 2016 Oct 20;6:35534. doi: 10.1038/srep35534. PubMed PMID: 27762341; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5071878.

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