William J. Brown
Professor of Cell Biology

William Brown




Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics
359 Biotechnology Building
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-2703


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Bill Brown is a Professor of Cell Biology in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, and he is a member of the Graduate Field of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology. He received his Ph.D. in Medical Sciences from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas in 1981, where he worked with Bill Snell. After that he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in cell biology with Marilyn Farquhar at Yale University School of Medicine from 1981 to 1985. In 1985, he joined the faculty at Cornell. He was a Visiting Scientist at the Scripps Research Institute in 2003.

Research Description

My general research interests are in the area of eukaryotic cell biology. We are currently pursuing two different research projects, but with a common theme of the role of lipid modifying enzymes in organelle biology. The first project focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of intracellular membrane trafficking in the secretory and endocytic pathways. Specifically, we are examining the role that phospholipid-modifying enzymes (phospholipases and lysophospholipid acyltransferases) play in the formation of membrane tubules from the Golgi complex and endosomes. These membrane tubules appear to facilitate membrane trafficking from both the Golgi complex and endosomes. The second project is on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of lipid (fat) storage and utilization within organelles called lipid droplets (also called adiposomes). Excess dietary fats are converted to triglycerides and then stored in adiposomes, which are highly dynamic intracellular organelles conserved from yeast to humans. We are currently engaged in three projects to better understand the cell biology of adiposomes: 1) formation or biogenesis of adiposomes during which triglycerides are synthesized and packaged for storage; 2) growth and maintenance of adiposomes; and 3) degradation of stored triglycerides by a newly discovered family of neutral lipases. Storage and utilization of excess fats in lipid droplets has direct relevance to our understanding of obesity and diabetes.


Chambers, K., and W. J. Brown. 2005. A unique lysophospholipid acyltransferase (LPAT) antagonist, CI-976, affects secretory and endocytic membrane trafficking pathways. J. Cell Sci. 118:3061-3071.

Smirnova, E. E. B. Goldberg, K. S. Makarova, L. Lin, W. J. Brown, C. L. Jackson . 2006. ATGL has a key role in lipid droplet/adiposome degradation in mammalian cells. EMBO Rep. 7:106-113.

Listenberger, L.L., A. G. Ostermeyer-Fay, E. B. Goldberg, W. J. Brown, and D. A. Brown. 2007. Adipocyte differentiation-related protein reduces the lipid droplet association of adipose triglyceride lipase and slows triacylglycerol turnover. J. Lipid Res. 48: 2751 - 2761.

Brown, W. J., H. Plutner, D. Drecktrah, B. L. Judson, and W.E. Balch. 2008. The Lysophospholipid Acyltransferase Antagonist CI-976 Inhibits a Late Step in COPII Vesicle Budding. Traffic 8:789-797.

Gaspar, M. L., S. A. Jesch, R. Viswanatha, A. L. Antosh, W. J. Brown, S. D. Kohlwein, and S. A. Henry. 2008. A block in ER-to-Golgi trafficking inhibits phospholipids synthesis and induces neutral lipid accumulation. J. Biol. Chem. 283:25735-25751.

Click here to view Dr. Brown's PubMed listing.