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Associate Professor Joanna Williams

Joanna WilliamsAssociate Professor Joanna Williams’ research team applies the tools of molecular biology to uncover the mechanisms underlying how the brain adapts and responds when memories are formed.
Ageing, brain trauma and neurological diseases result in the deterioration of memories and have catastrophic effects for individuals and society as a whole. It is important for us to understand the molecular steps involved in the maintenance of memories and identify how these are perturbed in disease.

A long-term research interest of this group has been to understand memory mechanisms, how the brain stores information. Using modern molecular biological, bioinformatics and proteomic techniques they have built up a portfolio of studies focused on the regulation of key glutamate receptors involved in memory processes, as well as how gene expression is altered in response to memory events. Most recently, they are pursuing evidence that microRNA, newly identified key regulators of gene expression, control memory-related gene expression profiles. They believe that understanding how memories are formed will lead to a greater understanding of the molecular pathology underlying age-related memory loss and diseases of the brain.

Williams’ lab is intensively researching a protein called sAPPα, a secreted protein fragment derived from the same parent molecule as amyloid-ß. Unlike amyloid-ß, the pathological agent in Alzheimer’s disease, sAPPα has neuroprotective and memory enhancing functions. They are working to uncover both the molecular mechanisms underlying these positive functions and the specific regions within sAPPα which confer these properties as they may have therapeutic potential.

Recently, they have added a new dimension to their research portfolio which aims to identify biomarkers within plasma which may predict neurological diseases. Currently this work focuses on Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.

Her work is funded through the Health Research Council of New Zealand, Marsden Fund, Lottery Health New Zealand Neurological Foundation and the Otago Grants Committee.

Find out more about Associate Professor Joanna Williams’ research

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Publications

Livingstone, R. W., Elder, M. K., Singh, A., Westlake, C. M., Tate, W. P., Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2021). Secreted amyloid precursor protein-alpha enhances LTP through the synthesis and trafficking of Ca2+-permeable AMPA receptors. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 14, 660208. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2021.660208

Potemkin, N., Cawood, S. M. F., Treece, J., Guévremont, D., Rand, C. J., McLean, C., Stanton, J.-A. L., & Williams, J. M. (2021). A workflow for simultaneous detection of coding and non-coding transcripts by ribosomal RNA-depleted RNA-Seq. bioRxiv. doi: 10.1101/2021.01.04.425201

Ryan, M., Tan, V. T. Y., Thompson, N., Guévremont, D., Mockett, B. G., Tate, W. P., Abraham, W. C., Hughes, S. M., & Williams, J. (2021). Lentivirus-mediated expression of human secreted amyloid precursor protein-alpha promotes long-term induction of neuroprotective genes and pathways in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 79, 1075-1090. doi: 10.3233/JAD-200757

Kyrke-Smith, M., Logan, B., Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2020). Bilateral histone deacetylase 1 and 2 activity and enrichment at unique genes following induction of long-term potentiation in vivo. Hippocampus. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/hipo.23297

Guévremont, D., Tsui, H., Knight, R., Fowler, C. J., Masters, C. L., Martins, R. N., Abraham, W. C., Tate, W. P., Cutfield, N., & Williams, J. M. (2020). Plasma microRNA vary in association with the progression in Alzheimer's disease. Proceedings of the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC). ODO2-09-06. Retrieved from https://alz.confex.com/alz/20amsterdam/meetingapp.cgi/Home/0

Livingstone, R. W., Elder, M. K., Singh, A., Westlake, C. M., Tate, W. P., Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2021). Secreted amyloid precursor protein-alpha enhances LTP through the synthesis and trafficking of Ca2+-permeable AMPA receptors. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 14, 660208. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2021.660208

Journal - Research Article

Ryan, M., Tan, V. T. Y., Thompson, N., Guévremont, D., Mockett, B. G., Tate, W. P., Abraham, W. C., Hughes, S. M., & Williams, J. (2021). Lentivirus-mediated expression of human secreted amyloid precursor protein-alpha promotes long-term induction of neuroprotective genes and pathways in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 79, 1075-1090. doi: 10.3233/JAD-200757

Journal - Research Article

Kyrke-Smith, M., Logan, B., Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2020). Bilateral histone deacetylase 1 and 2 activity and enrichment at unique genes following induction of long-term potentiation in vivo. Hippocampus. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/hipo.23297

Journal - Research Article

Loehfelm, A., Elder, M. K., Boucsein, A., Jones, P. P., Williams, J. M., & Tups, A. (2020). Docosahexaenoic acid prevents palmitate-induced insulin-dependent impairments of neuronal health. FASEB Journal, 34, 4635-4652. doi: 10.1096/fj.201902517R

Journal - Research Article

Livingstone, R. W., Elder, M. K., Barrett, M. C., Westlake, C. M., Peppercorn, K., Tate, W. P., Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2019). Secreted amyloid precursor protein-alpha promotes arc protein synthesis in hippocampal neurons. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 12, 198. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2019.00198

Journal - Research Article

Mockett, B. G., Guévremont, D., Elder, M. K., Parfitt, K. D., Peppercorn, K., Morrissey, J., Singh, A., Hintz, T. J., … Tate, W. P., Williams, J. M., & Abraham, W. C. (2019). Glutamate receptor trafficking and protein synthesis mediate the facilitation of LTP by secreted amyloid precursor protein-alpha. Journal of Neuroscience, 39(17), 3188-3203. doi: 10.1523/jneurosci.1826-18.2019

Journal - Research Article

Ryan, B., & Williams, J. M. (2019). Novel microRNA revealed by systematic analysis of the microRNA transcriptome in dentate gyrus granule cells. Neuroscience Letters, 707, 132280. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2016.09.003

Journal - Research Article

Ryan, B., Williams, J. M., & Curtis, M. A. (2019). Plasma microRNAs are altered early and consistently in a mouse model of tauopathy. Neuroscience, 411, 164-176. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2019.05.036

Journal - Research Article

Kyrke-Smith, M., & Williams, J. M. (2018). Bridging synaptic and epigenetic maintenance mechanisms of the engram. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 11, 369. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2018.00369

Journal - Research Article

Ryan, M. M., Guévremont, D., Mockett, B. G., Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2018). Circulating plasma microRNAs are altered with amyloidosis in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 66(2), 835-852. doi: 10.3233/jad-180385

Journal - Research Article

Ryan, B., Logan, B. J., Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2017). MicroRNAs, miR-23a-3p and miR-151-3p, are regulated in dentate gyrus neuropil following induction of long-term potentiation in vivo. PLoS ONE, 12(1), e0170407. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0170407

Journal - Research Article

Nido, G. S., Ryan, M. M., Benuskova, L., & Williams, J. M. (2015). Dynamical properties of gene regulatory networks involved in long-term potentiation. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 8, 42. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2015.00042

Journal - Research Article

Ryan, B., Joilin, G., & Williams, J. M. (2015). Plasticity-related microRNA and their potential contribution to the maintenance of long-term potentiation. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 8, 4. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2015.00004

Journal - Research Article

Ryan, M. M., Guévremont, D., Luxmanan, C., Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2015). Aging alters long-term potentiation—related gene networks and impairs synaptic protein synthesis in the rat hippocampus. Neurobiology of Aging, 36(5), 1868-1880. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2015.01.012

Journal - Research Article

Smith, C. C., Guévremont, D., Williams, J. M., & Napper, R. M. A. (2015). Apoptotic cell death and temporal expression of apoptotic proteins Bcl-2 and Bax in the hippocampus, following binge ethanol in the neonatal rat model. Alcoholism, 39(1), 36-44. doi: 10.1111/acer.12606

Journal - Research Article

Dickerson, D. D., Overeem, K. A., Wolff, A. R., Williams, J. M., Abraham, W. C., & Bilkey, D. K. (2014). Association of aberrant neural synchrony and altered GAD67 expression following exposure to maternal immune activation, a risk factor for schizophrenia. Translational Psychiatry, 4, e418. doi: 10.1038/tp.2014.64

Journal - Research Article

Joilin, G., Guévremont, D., Ryan, B., Claudianos, C., Cristino, A. S., Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2014). Rapid regulation of microRNA following induction of long-term potentiation in vivo. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 7, 98. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2014.00098

Journal - Research Article

Kennard, J. T. T., Guévremont, D., Mason-Parker, S. E., Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2014). Redistribution of ionotropic glutamate receptors detected by laser microdissection of the rat dentate gyrus 48 h following LTP induction in vivo. PLoS ONE, 9(3), e92972. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0092972

Journal - Research Article

Trotman, M., Barad, Z., Guévremont, D., Williams, J., & Leitch, B. (2014). Changes in the GRIP 1&2 scaffolding proteins in the cerebellum of the ataxic stargazer mouse. Brain Research, 1546, 53-62. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2013.12.027

Journal - Research Article

Eckert, M. J., Guévremont, D., Williams, J. M., & Abraham, W. C. (2013). Rapid visual stimulation increases extrasynaptic glutamate receptor expression but not visual-evoked potentials in the adult rat primary visual cortex. European Journal of Neuroscience, 37(3), 400-406. doi: 10.1111/ejn.12053

Journal - Research Article

Ryan, M. M., Morris, G. P., Mockett, B. G., Bourne, K., Abraham, W. C., Tate, W. P., & Williams, J. M. (2013). Time-dependent changes in gene expression induced by secreted amyloid precursor protein-alpha in the rat hippocampus. BMC Genomics, 14, 376. doi: 10.1186/1471-2164-14-376

Journal - Research Article

Rushaidhi, M., Jing, Y., Kennard, J. T., Collie, N. D., Williams, J. M., Zhang, H., & Liu, P. (2012). Aging affects L-arginine and its metabolites in memory-associated brain structures at the tissue and synaptoneurosome levels. Neuroscience, 209, 21-31. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.02.021

Journal - Research Article

Ryan, M. M., Ryan, B., Kyrke-Smith, M., Logan, B., Tate, W. P., Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2012). Temporal profiling of gene networks associated with the late phase of long-term potentiation in vivo. PLoS ONE, 7(7), e40538. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040538

Journal - Research Article

Mockett, B. G., Guévremont, D., Wutte, M., Hulme, S. R., Williams, J. M., & Abraham, W. C. (2011). Calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II mediates Group I metabotropic glutamate receptor-dependent protein synthesis and long-term depression in rat hippocampus. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(20), 7380-7391. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6656-10.2011

Journal - Research Article

Ryan, M. M., Mason-Parker, S. E., Tate, W. P., Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2011). Rapidly induced gene networks following induction of long-term potentiation at perforant path synapses in vivo. Hippocampus, 21(5), 541-553. doi: 10.1002/hipo.20770

Journal - Research Article

Tenorio, G., Connor, S. A., Guévremont, D., Abraham, W. C., Williams, J., O'Dell, T. J., & Nguyen, P. V. (2010). 'Silent' priming of translation-dependent LTP by β-adrenergic receptors involves phosphorylation and recruitment of AMPA receptors. Learning & Memory, 17(12), 627-638. doi: 10.1101/lm.1974510

Journal - Research Article

Claasen, A. M., Guévremont, D., Mason-Parker, S. E., Bourne, K., Tate, W. P., Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2009). Secreted amyloid precursor protein-α upregulates synaptic protein synthesis by a protein kinase G-dependent mechanism. Neuroscience Letters, 460, 92-96. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2009.05.040

Journal - Research Article

Kennard, J. T. T., Guévremont, D., Mason-Parker, S. E., Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2009). Increased expression, but not postsynaptic localisation, of ionotropic glutamate receptors during the late-phase of long-term potentiation in the dentate gyrus in vivo. Neuropharmacology, 56(1), 66-72. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2008.07.044

Journal - Research Article

Leitch, B., Shevtsova, O., Guévremont, D., & Williams, J. (2009). Loss of calcium channels in the cerebellum of the ataxic and epileptic stargazer mutant mouse. Brain Research, 1279, 156-167. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2009.04.051

Journal - Research Article

Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2008). LTP maintenance and its protein synthesis-dependence. Neurobiology of Learning & Memory, 89(3), 260-268. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2007.10.001

Journal - Research Article

Mockett, B. G., Guévremont, D., Williams, J. M., & Abraham, W. C. (2007). Dopamine D1/D5 receptor activation reverses NMDA receptor-dependent long-term depression in rat hippocampus. Journal of Neuroscience, 27(11), 2918-2926. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0838-06.2007

Journal - Research Article

Williams, J. M., Guévremont, D., Mason-Parker, S. E., Luxmanan, C., Tate, W. P., & Abraham, W. C. (2007). Differential trafficking of AMPA and NMDA receptors during long-term potentiation in awake adult animals. Journal of Neuroscience, 27(51), 14171-14178.

Journal - Research Article

Ireland, D. R., Guévremont, D., Williams, J. M., & Abraham, W. C. (2004). Metabotropic glutamate receptor-mediated depression of the slow afterhyperpolarization is gated by tyrosine phosphatases in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons. Journal of Neurophysiology, 92, 2811-2819.

Journal - Research Article

Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2003). Properties and mechanisms of LTP maintenance. Neuroscientist, 9(6), 463-474.

Journal - Research Article

Williams, J. M., Guévremont, D., Kennard, J. T. T., Mason-Parker, S. E., Tate, W. P., & Abraham, W. C. (2003). Long-term regulation of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subunits and associated synaptic proteins following hippocampal synaptic plasticity. Neuroscience, 118, 1003-1013.

Journal - Research Article

Coussens, C. M., Williams, J. M., Ireland, D. R., & Abraham, W. C. (2000). Tyrosine phosphorylation-dependent inhibition of hippocampal synaptic plasticity. Neuropharmacology, 39, 2267-2277.

Journal - Research Article

Williams, J. M., Beckmann, A. M., Mason-Parker, S. E., Abraham, W. C., Wilce, P. A., & Tate, W. P. (2000). Sequential increase in Egr-1 and AP-1 DNA binding activity in the dentate gyrus following the induction of long-term potentiation. Molecular Brain Research, 77, 258-266.

Journal - Research Article

Williams, J. M., Mason-Parker, S. E., Abraham, W. C., & Tate, W. P. (1998). Biphasic changes in the levels of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor-2 subunits correlate with the induction and persistence of long-term potentiation. Molecular Brain Research, 60, 21-27.

Journal - Research Article

Williams, J. M., Thompson, V. L., Mason-Parker, S. E., Abraham, W. C., & Tate, W. P. (1998). Synaptic activity-dependent modulation of mitochondrial gene expression in the rat hippocampus. Molecular Brain Research, 60, 50-56.

Journal - Research Article

Abraham, W. C., Logan, B., Thompson, V. L., Williams, J. M., & Tate, W. P. (1997). Sequence-independent effects of phosphorothioated oligonucleotides on synaptic transmission and excitability in the hippocampus in vivo. Neuropharmacology, 36, 345-352.

Journal - Research Article

Ryan, B., Baker, A., Ilse, C., Brickell, K. L., Kersten, H. M., Danesh-Meyer, H. V., Williams, J. M., … Curtis, M. A. (2018). Diagnosing pre-clinical dementia: The NZ Genetic Frontotemporal Dementia Study (FTDGeNZ). New Zealand Medical Journal, 1476(131), 88-91. Retrieved from https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

Journal - Research Other

Nido, G. S., Williams, J. M., & Benuskova, L. (2012). Bistable properties of a memory-related gene regulatory network. Proceedings of the Annual International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN). (pp. 1602-1607). IEEE. doi: 10.1109/IJCNN.2012.6252588

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Full paper

Guévremont, D., Tsui, H., Knight, R., Fowler, C. J., Masters, C. L., Martins, R. N., Abraham, W. C., Tate, W. P., Cutfield, N., & Williams, J. M. (2020). Plasma microRNA vary in association with the progression in Alzheimer's disease. Proceedings of the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC). ODO2-09-06. Retrieved from https://alz.confex.com/alz/20amsterdam/meetingapp.cgi/Home/0

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Chu, A. J., Peppercorn, K., Tate, W. P., Erlandsson, A., & Williams, J. M. (2019). Secreted amyloid precursor protein-alpha enhances amyloid-beta protofibril degradation in primary murine astrocytes. Proceedings of the 39th Australasian Neuroscience Society (ANS) Annual Scientific Meeting. 12828. Retrieved from https://www.ans.org.au

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Kyrke-Smith, M., Abraham, W., & Williams, J. (2019). Bilateral regulation of histone deacetylase activity and gene expression is associated with an intermediate form long-term potentiation in vivo. Proceedings of the 39th Australasian Neuroscience Society (ANS) Annual Scientific Meeting. 11708. Retrieved from https://www.ans.org.au

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Livingstone, R., Elder, M. K., Barrett, M., Westlate, C., Peppercorn, K., Tate, W., Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2019). Arc protein synthesis is promoted by secreted amyloid precursor protein-alpha in primary hippocampal neurons. Proceedings of the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting. 286.17/C27. SfN. Retrieved from https://www.sfn.org

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Roy, J., Guevremont, D., Garvey, A., Cutfield, N. J., & Williams, J. M. (2019). MicroRNA expression in the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. Proceedings of the 39th Australasian Neuroscience Society (ANS) Annual Scientific Meeting. 13197. Retrieved from https://www.ans.org.au

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Roy, J., Guévremont, D., Garvey, A., Cutfield, N., & Williams, J. (2019). MicroRNA expression in the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. Movement Disorders, 24(Suppl. 2), (pp. S297). doi: 10.1002/mds.27795

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Elder, M. K., Tate, W. P., Abraham, W. C., Schman, E., & Williams, J. (2018). Secreted amyloid precursor protein alpha regulates AMPA receptor synthesis and trafficking. Proceedings of the 38th Australasian Neuroscience Society (ANS) Annual Scientific Meeting. 9274. Retrieved from https://www.ans.org.au

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Livingstone, R. W., Elder, M. K., Barrett, M., Westlake, C., Tate, W., Abraham, W., & Williams, J. M. (2018). Arc protein expression in response to secreted amyloid precursor protein-α in primary hippocampal cultures. In K. Hillman (Ed.), Proceedings of the 36th International Australasian Winter Conference on Brain Research. (pp. 60). AWCBR. Retrieved from https://www.otago.ac.nz/awcbr

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

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