Molecular Biology of Retinal Ganglion Cells

Natik Piri, PhD, Director

Contact Information
Phone: (310) 825-9850
Fax: (310) 794-2144
Email: [email protected]

Location Address
Stein Eye Institute
100 Stein Plaza,Room B146
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Research Areas

Molecular Biology and Biochemistry of Retinal Ganglion Cells
Mechanism of Retinal Ganglion Cell Death in Glaucoma


Dr. Piri's research is aimed toward understanding the molecular mechanisms leading to retinal ganglion cells (RGC) death in glaucoma. It has been established that RGCs die by apoptosis in glaucoma, but the exact pathway from death stimulus to cell death is not understood. As an initial step in identifying potential factors responsible for RGC apoptosis, Dr. Piri's laboratory is analyzing gene expression patterns that are altered in glaucomatous retinas using DNA microarrays and proteomic technologies, as well as conventional molecular biology, biochemistry and genetic methods. Another area of interest is the identification of new genes that are expressed exclusively or preferentially in RGCs. Currently, Dr. Piri is investigating the roles of several RGC-expressed novel genes in RGC differentiation and metabolism, and their possible involvement in glaucomatous or other optic neuropathies. Gene and protein expression studies may lead to a better understanding of the regulatory events involved in RGC apoptosis, and provide molecular targets for the development of new therapeutic agents with neuroprotective effects in order to prevent or delay the loss of ganglion cells in glaucoma.

Representative Publications

Guillonneau X, Piriev NI, Danciger M, Kozak CA, Cideciyan AV, Jacobson SG, Farber DB: A nonsense mutation in a novel gene is associated with retinitis pigmentosa in a family linked to the RP1 locus. Hum Mol Genet 1999;8:1541-6.

Piriev NI, Akhmedov NB, Chang B, Rapoport A, Hawes NL, Nishina PM, Nusinowitz S, Heckenlively JH, Roderick TH, Kozak CA, Danciger M, Davisson MT, Farber DB: A deletion in a photoreceptor-specific nuclear receptor mRNA causes retinal degeneration in rd7 mouse. Proc.Natl Acad Sci USA 2000;97:5551-6.

Piriev N, Yamashita CK, Shih J, Farber DB: Expression of functionally active cone photoreceptor cGMP-PDE o' subunit in chinese humster ovary, 293 human embryonic kidney and Y79 retinoblastoma cells. Mol Vis 2003;9:80-6.

Piri N, Yamashita CK, Shih J, Akhmedov NB, Farber DB: Regulation of rod photoreceptor cGMP-phosphodiesterase alpha and beta subunits expression: mRNA and protein levels. J Biol Chem 2003;278:36999-7005.

Piri N, Gao Y, Danciger M, Mendoza E, Fishman GA, Farber DB: A transition of G to C in the 5' untranslated region of the cone cGMP-phosphodiesterase gamma subunit and cone-rod dystrophy. Ophthalmol 2005;112:159-66.



Available Positions