Professor William Harris

University Position
Emeritus Professor


Where does the nervous system come from in the embryo? How does it grow to the right size and shape? How do stem cells turn into more committed neuronal progenitors and how do these cells know when to leave the cycle and differentiate into neural and glial progenitors? Once born, how do these precursors differentiate? How do they choose a particular cell type to become amongst a myriad of possible fates, and by what cellular mechanisms do these cells become properly polarised, branched, and integrated into the retinal circuitry? What mechanisms allow retinal ganglion cells to send out long axons that forge pathways to their targets in the brain, and recognise specific cells within these targets? These were the main questions that my laboratory investigated using the visual systems of Xenopus and zebrafish because of their embryological, molecular and genetic accessibility to experimentation, combined with the possibility of in vivo time-lapse imaging.

Key Publications

Late Endosomes Act as mRNA Translation Platforms and Sustain Mitochondria in Axons.

Journal: Cell
E-pub date: 10 Jan 2019
Authors: J-M Cioni, JQ Lin, AV Holtermann, M Koppers, MAH Jakobs, A Azizi, B Turner-Bridger, T Shigeoka, K Franze, WA Harris, CE Holt


Receptor-specific interactome as a hub for rapid cue-induced selective translation in axons.

Journal: Elife
E-pub date: 20 Nov 2019
Authors: M Koppers, R Cagnetta, T Shigeoka, LC Wunderlich, P Vallejo-Ramirez, J Qiaojin Lin, S Zhao, MA Jakobs, A Dwivedy, MS Minett, A Bellon, CF Kaminski, WA Harris, JG Flanagan, CE Holt

RNA Docking and Local Translation Regulate Site-Specific Axon Remodeling In Vivo.

Journal: Neuron
E-pub date: 16 Aug 2017
Authors: HH-W Wong, JQ Lin, F Ströhl, CG Roque, J-M Cioni, R Cagnetta, B Turner-Bridger, RF Laine, WA Harris, CF Kaminski, CE Holt