Don Arnold

Professor of Biological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering
Don Arnold
Email Office RRI 204B Office Phone (213) 821-1266

Research & Practice Areas




  • Ph.D. , Johns Hopkins University, 9/1992
  • B.A. , University of Toronto, 1/1986
  • Tenure Track Appointments

    • Professor, University of Southern California, 2013 –
    • Associate Professor, University of Southern California, 05/10/2007 – 2013
    • Assistant Professor, University of Southern California, 10/01/1999 – 05/09/2007

    PostDoctoral Appointments

    • Post-Doctoral Fellow, Harvard University, 03/01/1997 – 09/30/1999
    • Post-Doctoral Fellow, Rockefeller University, 09/01/1992 – 02/28/1997
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    Professor Arnold studies how information is encoded in synapses. Modifying the network of synaptic connections between neurons is thought to be the main mechanism for storing information in the brain. The Arnold laboratory has developed novel recombinant probes known as FingRs that allow us to visualize and ablate synaptic connections in living organisms. We are using this technology to study how synapses change when a memory is formed in a behaving animal. We are also adapting this technology to enable the modification or erasure of memories in vivo through the ablation of synapses in a light-dependent manner. We are particularly interested in the mechanisms by which maladaptive memories, such as associative memories that can lead to PTSD or addiction, are formed. Ultimately, our goal is to use our technology to erase or modify such memories.

    Research Keywords

    brain, neurobiology, synapse, memory, PTSD, addiction,

  • Contracts and Grants Awarded

    • Dynamic mapping of the complete synaptome using recombinant probes, (NIH), Don B. Arnold $9,700,000, 2013-2019
    • Recombinant antibodies for cytoplasmic, nuclear and transmembrane proteins, (NIH), Don B. Arnold $1,319,250, 2013-2018
    • Molecular probes to visualize endogenous synaptic proteins in vivo, (NIH), Don B. Arnold $1,793,750, 2012-2018
    • Probing and controlling single neuron synaptic function in the brain with light, intrabodies and sen, (Human Frontiers Science Program), Don B. Arnold $1,050,000, 2013-2017
    • Ablating Intrabodies – Tools for Direct Ablation of Endogenous Proteins, (McKnight Foundation), Don B. Arnold $200,000, 2011-2015
    • Subcellular Localization of Neuronal Ion Channels, (NINDS/NIH), Don B. Arnold $1,417,500, 2009-2014
    • (Fall 2023) BISC 461. Seminar in Molecular and Computational Biology, T 04:00pm – 05:50pm, RRI221
  • Journal Article

    • Dempsey, W. P., Du, Z., Nadtochiy, A., Smith, C. D., Czajkowski, K., Andreev, A., Robson, D. N., Li, J. M., Applebaum, S., Truong, T. V., Kesselman, C., Fraser, S. E., Arnold, D. B. (2022). Regional synapse gain and loss accompany memory formation in larval zebrafish. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Vol. 119 (3) PubMed Web Address
    • Xiao, M. F., Roh, S. E., Zhou, J., Chien, C. C., Lucey, B. P., Craig, M. T., Hayes, L. N., Coughlin, J. M., Leweke, F. M., Jia, M., Xu, D., Zhou, W., Conover, J. r., Arnold, D. B., Staley, M., Jiang, C., Reti, I. M., Sawa, A., Pelkey, K. A., McBain, C. J., Savonenko, A., Worley, P. F. (2021). A biomarker-authenticated model of schizophrenia implicating NPTX2 loss of function. Science advances. Vol. 7 (48), pp. eabf6935. PubMed Web Address
    • Davenport, C. M., Rajappa, R., Katchan, L., Taylor, C. R., Tsai, M. C., Smith, C. M., de, J. W., Arnold, D. B., Lammel, S., Kramer, R. H. (2021). Relocation of an Extrasynaptic GABAA Receptor to Inhibitory Synapses Freezes Excitatory Synaptic Strength and Preserves Memory. Neuron. Vol. 109 (1), pp. 123-134.e4. PubMed Web Address
    • Cook, S. G., Goodell, D. J., Restrepo, S., Arnold, D. B., Bayer, K. U. (2019). Simultaneous Live Imaging of Multiple Endogenous Proteins Reveals a Mechanism for Alzheimer’s-Related Plasticity Impairment. Cell reports. Vol. 27 (3), pp. 658-665.e4. PubMed Web Address
    • Wolfe, A. D., Arnold, D. B., Chen, X. S. (2019). Comparison of RNA Editing Activity of APOBEC1-A1CF and APOBEC1-RBM47 Complexes Reconstituted in HEK293T Cells. Journal of molecular biology. Vol. 431 (7), pp. 1506-1517. PubMed Web Address
    • Li, Y., Junge, J. A., Arnesano, C., Gross, G. G., Miner, J. H., Moats, R., Roberts, R. W., Arnold, D. B., Fraser, S. E. (2018). Discs large 1 controls daughter-cell polarity after cytokinesis in vertebrate morphogenesis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Vol. 115 (46), pp. E10859-E10868. PubMed Web Address
    • Fan, L. Z., Nehme, R., Adam, Y., Jung, E. S., Wu, H., Eggan, K., Arnold, D. B., Cohen, A. E. (2018). All-optical synaptic electrophysiology probes mechanism of ketamine-induced disinhibition. Nature methods. Vol. 15 (10), pp. 823-831. PubMed Web Address
    • Balasanyan, V., Watanabe, K., Dempsey, W. P., Lewis, J. r., Trinh, L. A., Arnold, D. B. (2017). Structure and Function of an Actin-Based Filter in the Proximal Axon. Cell reports. Vol. 21 (10), pp. 2696-2705. PubMed Web Address
    • Zheng, W., Wu, Y., Winter, P., Fischer, R., Nogare, D. D., Hong, A., McCormick, C., Christensen, R., Dempsey, W. P., Arnold, D. B., Zimmerberg, J., Chitnis, A., Sellers, J., Waterman, C., Shroff, H. (2017). Adaptive optics improves multiphoton super-resolution imaging. Nature methods. Vol. 14 (9), pp. 869-872. PubMed Web Address
    • Feng, S., Arnold, D. B. (2016). Techniques for studying protein trafficking and molecular motors in neurons. Cytoskeleton (Hoboken, N.J.). Vol. 73 (9), pp. 508-15. PubMed Web Address
    • Gross, G. G., Straub, C., Perez-Sanchez, J., Dempsey, W. P., Junge, J. A., Roberts, R. W., Trinh, A., Fraser, S. E., De, Y., De, P., Sabatini, B. L., Arnold, D. B. (2016). An E3-ligase-based method for ablating inhibitory synapses. Nature methods. Vol. 13 (8), pp. 673-8. PubMed Web Address
    • Kannan, M., Gross, G. G., Arnold, D. B., Higley, M. J. (2016). Visual Deprivation During the Critical Period Enhances Layer 2/3 GABAergic Inhibition in Mouse V1. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. Vol. 36 (22), pp. 5914-9. PubMed Web Address
    • Marotta, N. P., Lin, Y. H., Lewis, Y. E., Ambroso, M. R., Zaro, B. W., Roth, M. T., Arnold, D. B., Langen, R., Pratt, M. R. (2015). O-GlcNAc modification blocks the aggregation and toxicity of the protein a-synuclein associated with Parkinson’s disease. Nature chemistry. Vol. 7 (11), pp. 913-20. PubMed Web Address
    • Barcomb, K., Goodell, D. J., Arnold, D. B., Bayer, K. U. (2015). Live imaging of endogenous Ca²?/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II in neurons reveals that ischemia-related aggregation does not require kinase activity. Journal of neurochemistry. Vol. 135 (4), pp. 666-73. PubMed Web Address
    • Arnold, D. B., Gallo, G. (2014). Structure meets function: actin filaments and myosin motors in the axon. Journal of neurochemistry. Vol. 129 (2), pp. 213-220. PubMed Web Address
    • Balasanyan, V., Arnold, D. B. (2014). Actin and myosin-dependent localization of mRNA to dendrites. PloS one. Vol. 9 (3), pp. e92349. PubMed Web Address
    • Mora, R. J., Roberts, R. W., Arnold, D. B. (2013). Recombinant probes reveal dynamic localization of CaMKIIa within somata of cortical neurons. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. Vol. 33 (36), pp. 14579-90. PubMed Web Address
    • Gross, G. G., Junge, J. A., Mora, R. J., Kwon, H. B., Olson, C. A., Takahashi, T. T., Liman, E. R., Ellis-Davies, G. C., McGee, A. W., Sabatini, B. L., Roberts, R. W., Arnold, D. B. (2013). Recombinant probes for visualizing endogenous synaptic proteins in living neurons. Neuron. Vol. 78 (6), pp. 971-85. PubMed Web Address
    • Watanabe, K., Al-Bassam, S., Miyazaki, Y., Wandless, T. J., Webster, P., Arnold, D. B. (2012). Networks of polarized actin filaments in the axon initial segment provide a mechanism for sorting axonal and dendritic proteins. Cell reports. Vol. 2 (6), pp. 1546-53. PubMed Web Address
    • Al-Bassam, S., Xu, M., Wandless, T. J., Arnold, D. B. (2012). Differential trafficking of transport vesicles contributes to the localization of dendritic proteins. Cell reports. Vol. 2 (1), pp. 89-100. PubMed Web Address
    • Lewis, T. L., Mao, T., Arnold, D. B. (2011). A role for Myosin VI in localization of axonal proteins. PLoS Biology. Vol. 9
    • Lewis, J. r., Mao, T., Arnold, D. B. (2011). A role for myosin VI in the localization of axonal proteins. PLoS biology. Vol. 9 (3), pp. e1001021. PubMed Web Address
    • Arnold, D. B. (2009). Actin and microtubule-based cytoskeletal cues direct polarized targeting of proteins in neurons. Science Signaling. Vol. 2 (83)
    • Lewis, Jr., T. L., Mao, T., Svoboda, K., Arnold, D. B. (2009). Myosin-dependent targeting of transmembrane proteins to neuronal dendrites. Nature Neuroscience. Vol. 12 (5), pp. 568-76.
    • Arnold, D. B. (2007). Polarized targeting of ion channels in neurons. Pflugers Archiv : European journal of physiology. Vol. 453 (6), pp. 763-9. PubMed Web Address
    • Arnold, D. B., Rivera, J., Chu, P. (2007). The role of Kif5B in Axonal Localization of Kv1 K(+) channels. Europian Journal of Neuroscience. pp. 136-146.
    • Chu, P., Rivera, J., Arnold, D. B. (2006). A role for Kif17 in transport of Kv4.2. Journal of Biological Chemistry. Vol. 281, pp. 365-373.
    • Rivera, J., Chu, P., Arnold, D. B. (2005). The T1 domain of Kv1.3 mediates intracellular targeting to axons. European Journal of Neuroscience/Blackwell. Vol. (22), pp. p. 1853-62.
    • Arnold, D. B. (2003). Rivera, J. F., Ahmad, S., Quick, M. W., Liman, E. R., and Arnold, D. B. Nature Neuroscience.
    • Rivera, J. F., Ahmad, S., Quick, M. W., Liman, E. R., Arnold, D. B. (2003). An evolutionarily conserved dileucine motif in Shal K+ channels mediates dendritic targeting. Nature neuroscience. Vol. 6 (3), pp. 243-50. PubMed Web Address
    • Arnold, D. B. (1999). Arnold DB, Clapham DE Molecular determinants for subcellular localization of PSD-95 with an interacting K+ channel. Neuron 23(1):149-57 (1999). Neuron.
    • McKnight Technological Innovations in Neuroscience, 2011-2012
    • Career Development Award, 2004
    • NIH/NSF Career Development Award, Independent Scientist Award, National Institute of Mental Health, 2004