Wen-tao Deng, Ph.D.

Wentao-DengAcademic Title

Associate Scientist

Contact Information

(352) 273-8784 (phone)
(352) 392-3062 (fax)




Dr. Deng received her Ph.D. in Molecular & Cellular Biology from University of Florida in 2001. She began her career in vision research after joining laboratory of Dr. William Hauswirth at Department of Ophthalmology in 2002. She is interested in both translational and basic research. In translational research she works on developing gene therapy for human blue cone monochromacy, an X-linked congenital disorder with severe cone dysfunction due to loss of both L- and M- cone function. She also works on AAV-mediated gene therapy for treating RPGR-ORF15 X-linked retinitis pigmentosa, the most severe and common cause of all XLRP cases. In basic research she studies the mechanisms that contribute to the distinctive light response properties between rod and cone photoreceptor cells. Although rods and cones use a similar G-protein coupled phototransduction pathway for light detection, the molecular mechanisms that produce their distinctive light responses are not well understood. She uses animal models lacking key components of rod and cone phototransduction pathway in combination with AAV vector technology to study the contribution of some key signaling molecules to the functional differences between rods and cones.


  • Deng WT, Kolandaivelu S, Dinculescu A, Li J, Ping Zhu, Chiodo VA, Ramamurthy V, Hauswirth WW. Cone phosphodiesterase-6γ’ subunit augments cone PDE6 holoenzyme assembly and stability in a mouse model lacking both rod and cone PDE6 catalytic subunits. Frontiers of Molecular Neurosciences, In Press, doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2018.00233
  • Deng WT, Li J, Zhu P, Chiodo VA, Wolfrum U, Baehr W, Smith WC, Pang JJ, Hauswirth WW. Human Opsins Restore M-Cone Function and structure in a Mouse Model for Human Blue Cone Monochromacy. Molecular Vision, 2018 Jan 24:17-28.
  • Zhang Y, Deng WT (co-first author), Li J, Zhu P, Baehr W, Pang JJ, Hauswirth WW. Gene-based Therapy in a Mouse Model of Blue Cone Monochromacy. Scientific Reports, 2017 Jul 27;7(1):6690.
  • Dinculescu A, Stupay RM, Deng WT, Dyka FM, Min SH, Boye SL, Chiodo VA, Abrahan CE, Zhu P, Li Q, Strettoi E, Novelli E, Nagel-Wolfrum K, Wolfrum U, Smith WC, Hauswirth WW. AAV-Mediated Clarin-1 Expression in the Mouse Retina: Implications for USH3A Gene Therapy. PLoS One. 2016 Feb 16;11(2):e0148874
  • Ghazi NG, Abboud EB, Nowilaty SR, Alkuraya H, Alhommadi A, Cai H, Hou R, Deng WT, Boye SL, Almaghamsi A, Al Saikhan F, Al-Dhibi H, Birch D, Chung C, Colak D, LaVail MM, Vollrath D, Erger K, Wang W, Conlon T, Zhang K, Hauswirth W, Alkuraya FS. Treatment of retinitis pigmentosa due to MERTK mutations by ocular subretinal injection of adeno-associated virus gene vector: results of a phase I trial. Hum Genet. 2016 Mar;135(3):327-43
  • Dinculescu A, Min SH, Dyka FM, Deng WT, Stupay RM, Chiodo V, Smith WC, Hauswirth WW. Pathological Effects of Mutant C1QTNF5 (S163R) Expression in Murine Retinal Pigment Epithelium. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2015 Oct; 56(11):6971-80.
  • Beltran WA, Cideciyan AV, Iwabe S, Swider M, Kosyk MS, McDaid K, Martynyuk I, Ying GS, Shaffer J, Deng WT, Boye SL, Lewin AS, Hauswirth WW, Jacobson SG, Aguirre GD. Successful arrest of photoreceptor and vision loss expands the therapeutic window of retinal gene therapy to later stages of disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Oct 27;112(43):E5844-53.
  • LaVail MM, Yasumura D, Matthes MT, Yang H, Hauswirth WW, Deng WT, Vollrath D. Gene Therapy for MERTK-Associated Retinal Degenerations. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016; 854:487-93.
  • Deng WT, Dyka FM, Dinculescu A, Li J, Zhu P, Chiodo VA, Boye SL, Conlon TJ, Erger K, Cossette T, Hauswirth WW. Stability and Safety of an AAV Vector for Treating RPGR-ORF15 X-Linked Retinitis Pigmentosa. Hum Gene Ther. 2015 Sep; 26(9):593-602.
  • Du W, Tao Y, Deng WT, Zhu P, Li J, Dai X, Zhang Y, Shi W, Liu X, Chiodo VA, Ding XQ, Zhao C, Michalakis S, Biel M, Zhang Z, Qu J, Hauswirth WW, Pang JJ. Vitreal delivery of AAV vectored Cnga3 restores cone function in CNGA3-/-/Nrl-/- mice, an all-cone model of CNGA3 achromatopsia. Hum Mol Genet. 2015 Jul 1;24(13):3699-707.
  • Dinculescu A, Min SH, Deng WT, Li Q, Hauswirth WW. Gene therapy in the rd6 mouse model of retinal degeneration. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;801:711-8.
  • Dai X, Han J, Qi Y, Zhang H, Xiang L, Lv J, Li J, Deng WT, Chang B, Hauswirth WW, and Pang JJ. AAV-Mediated Lysophosphatidylcholine Acyltransferase 1 (Lpcat1) Gene Replacement Therapy Rescues Retinal Degeneration in rd11 Mice.  Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci.  2014, 55(3): 1724-34.
  • Deng WT, Sakurai K, Kolandaivelu S, Kolesnikov AV, Dinculescu A, Li J, Zhu P, Liu X, Pang J, Chiodo VA, Boye SL, Chang Bo, Ramamurthy V, Kefalov VJ, Hauswirth W.  Cone Phosphodiesterase-6α’ Restores Rod Function and Confers Distinct Physiological Properties in the Rod Phosphodiesterase-6β Deficient rd10 Mouse.  Journal of Neuroscience.  2013, 33(29): 11745-53.
  • Conlon TJ, Deng WT (co-first author), Erger K, Cossette T, Pang JJ, Ryals R, Clément N, Cleaver B, McDoom I, Boye SE, Peden MC, Sherwood MB, Abernathy CR, Alkuraya FS, Boye SL, Hauswirth WW. Preclinical Potency and Safety Studies of an AAV2-Mediated Gene Therapy Vector for the Treatment of MERTK Associated Retinitis Pigmentosa. Hum Gene Ther Clin Dev. 2013, 24(1):23-8.
  • Pang JJ, Deng WT (co-first author), Dai X, Lei B, Everhart D, Umino Y, Li J, Zhang K, Mao S, Boye SL, Liu L, Chiodo VA, Liu X, Shi W, Tao Y, Chang B, Hauswirth WW. AAV-mediated cone rescue in a naturally occurring mouse model of CNGA3-achromatopsia. PLoS One. 2012, 7(4): e35250
  • Deng WT, Dinculescu A, Li Q, Boye SL, Li J, Gorbatyuk MS, Pang J, Chiodo V, Liu L, Alkuraya F, Zhang K, Vollrath D, LaVail MM, Tyrosine-mutant AAV8 delivery of human MERTK provides long-term retinal preservation in RCS Rats. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2012, 53(4):1895-904.
  • Beltran WA, Cideciyan AV, Lewin AS, Iwabe S, Khanna H, Sumaroka A, Chiodo VA, Fajardo DS, Román AJ, Deng WT, Swider M, Alemán TS, Boye SL, Genini S, Swaroop A, Hauswirth WW, Jacobson SG, Aguirre GD. Gene therapy rescues photoreceptor blindness in dogs and paves the way for treating human X-linked retinitis pigmentosa. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012, 109(6):2132-7.
  • Dinculescu A, Estreicher J, Zenteno JC, Aleman TS, Schwartz SB, Huang WC, Roman AJ, Sumaroka A, Deng WT, Min SH, Chiodo V, Neeley AW, Liu X, Shu X, Matias-Florentino M, Buentello-Volante B, Boye SL, Cideciyan AV, Hauswirth WW, Jacobson SG. Gene therapy for retinitis pigmentosa caused by MFRP mutations: human phenotype and preliminary proof of concept. Hum Gene Ther. 2012, 23(4):367-76.
  • Petrs-Silva H, Dinculescu A, Li Q, Deng WT, Pang JJ, Min SH, Chiodo V, Neeley AW, Govindasamy L, Bennett A, Agbandje-McKenna M, Zhong L, Li B, Jayandharan GR, Srivastava A, Lewin AS, Hauswirth WW. Novel properties of tyrosine-mutant AAV2 vectors in the mouse retina. Molecular Therapy. 2011, 19(2):293-301.
  • Lobanova ES, Herrmann R, Finkelstein S, Reidel B, Skiba NP, Deng WT, Jo R, Weiss ER, Hauswirth WW, Arshavsky VY. Mechanistic basis for the failure of cone transducin to translocate: why cones are never blinded by light.  J Neuroscience. 2010, 30(20):6815-24.
  • Deng WT, Sakurai K, Liu J, Dinculescu A, Li J, Pang J, Min SH, Chiodo VA, Boye SL, Chang B, Kefalov VJ, Hauswirth WW. Functional interchangeability of rod and cone transducin alpha-subunits. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2009, 106 (42):17681-6.
  • Pang JJ, Boye SL, Kumar A, Dinculescu A, Deng W, Li J, Li Q, Rani A, Foster TC, Chang B, Hawes NL, Boatright JH, Hauswirth WW. AAV-mediated gene therapy for retinal degeneration in the rd10 mouse containing a recessive PDEbeta mutation. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2008, 49(10):4278-83.
  • Pang JJ, Lauramore A, Deng WT, Li Q, Doyle TJ, Chiodo V, Li J, Hauswirth WW. Comparative analysis of in vivo and in vitro AAV vector transduction in the neonatal mouse retina: effects of serotype and site of administration. Vision Research, 2008, 48(3):377-85.
  • Lutty GA, Chan-Ling T, Phelps DL, Adamis AP, Berns KI, Chan CK, Cole CH, D’Amore PA, Das A, Deng WT, Dobson V, Flynn JT, Friedlander M, Fulton A, Good WV, Grant MB, Hansen R, Hauswirth WW, Hardy RJ, Hinton DR, Hughes S, McLeod DS, Palmer EA, Patz A, Penn JS, Raisler BJ, Repka MX, Saint-Geniez M, Shaw LC, Shima DT, Smith BT, Smith LE, Tahija SG, Tasman W, Trese MT. Proceedings of the Third International Symposium on Retinopathy of Prematurity: an update on ROP from the lab to the nursery (November 2003, Anaheim, California). Molecular Vision. 2006,12: 532-80.
  • Deng WT, Yan Z, Dinculescu A, Pang J, Teusner JT, Cortez NG, Berns KI, Hauswirth WW. Adeno-associated virus-mediated expression of vascular endothelial growth factor peptides inhibits retinal neovascularization in a mouse model of oxygen-induced retinopathy. Human Gene Therapy. 2005, 16(11):1247-54.
  • Tan BC, Joseph LM, Deng WT (co-first author), Liu L, Li QB, Cline K, McCarty DR. Molecular characterization of the Arabidopsis 9-cis epoxycarotenoid dioxygenase gene family. Plant J. 2003, 35(1):44-56.

Book Chapters

  • Dinculescu A, Min SH, Deng WT, Li Q, Hauswirth WW. Gene Therapy in the rd6 mouse model of retinal degeneration. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014, 801:711-8.
  • Pang JJ, Alexander J, Lei B, Deng W, Zhang K, Li Q, Chang B, Hauswirth WW. Achromatopsia as a potential candidate for gene therapy. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2010, 664:639-46.
  • Raisler BJ, Deng WT, Hauswirth WW. Adeno-associated virus mediated gene therapy for vascular retinopathies. Laboratory Techniques in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 2005. Vol 31.