Mohammad A Faghihi

The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, United States

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Publications (4)72.43 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and microRNAs (miRNAs) are sequence-specific post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression. Although major components of the RNA interference (RNAi) pathway have been identified, regulatory mechanisms for this pathway remain largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that the RNAi pathway can be modulated intracellularly by small molecules. We have developed a cell-based assay to monitor the activity of the RNAi pathway and find that the small-molecule enoxacin (Penetrex) enhances siRNA-mediated mRNA degradation and promotes the biogenesis of endogenous miRNAs. We show that this RNAi-enhancing activity depends on the trans-activation-responsive region RNA-binding protein. Our results provide a proof-of-principle demonstration that small molecules can be used to modulate the activity of the RNAi pathway. RNAi enhancers may be useful in the development of research tools and therapeutics.
    Nature Biotechnology 08/2008; 26(8):933-40. · 32.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mutations in the PTEN induced putative kinase 1 (PINK1) are implicated in early-onset Parkinson's disease. PINK1 is expressed abundantly in mitochondria rich tissues, such as skeletal muscle, where it plays a critical role determining mitochondrial structural integrity in Drosophila. Herein we characterize a novel splice variant of PINK1 (svPINK1) that is homologous to the C-terminus regulatory domain of the protein kinase. Naturally occurring non-coding antisense provides sophisticated mechanisms for diversifying genomes and we describe a human specific non-coding antisense expressed at the PINK1 locus (naPINK1). We further demonstrate that PINK1 varies in vivo when human skeletal muscle mitochondrial content is enhanced, supporting the idea that PINK1 has a physiological role in mitochondrion. The observation of concordant regulation of svPINK1 and naPINK1 during in vivo mitochondrial biogenesis was confirmed using RNAi, where selective targeting of naPINK1 results in loss of the PINK1 splice variant in neuronal cell lines. Our data presents the first direct observation that a mammalian non-coding antisense molecule can positively influence the abundance of a cis-transcribed mRNA under physiological abundance conditions. While our analysis implies a possible human specific and dsRNA-mediated mechanism for stabilizing the expression of svPINK1, it also points to a broader genomic strategy for regulating a human disease locus and increases the complexity through which alterations in the regulation of the PINK1 locus could occur.
    BMC Genomics 02/2007; 8:74. · 4.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Antisense transcription (transcription from the opposite strand to a protein-coding or sense strand) has been ascribed roles in gene regulation involving degradation of the corresponding sense transcripts (RNA interference), as well as gene silencing at the chromatin level. Global transcriptome analysis provides evidence that a large proportion of the genome can produce transcripts from both strands, and that antisense transcripts commonly link neighboring "genes" in complex loci into chains of linked transcriptional units. Expression profiling reveals frequent concordant regulation of sense/antisense pairs. We present experimental evidence that perturbation of an antisense RNA can alter the expression of sense messenger RNAs, suggesting that antisense transcription contributes to control of transcriptional outputs in mammals.
    Science 10/2005; 309(5740):1564-6. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Over 4 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are currently reported to exist within the human genome. Only a small fraction of these SNPs alter gene function or expression, and therefore might be associated with a cell phenotype. These functional SNPs are consequently important in understanding human health. Information related to functional SNPs in candidate disease genes is critical for cost effective genetic association studies, which attempt to understand the genetics of complex diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer's, etc. Robust methods for the identification of functional SNPs are therefore crucial. We report one such experimental approach. Sequence conserved between mouse and human genomes, within 5 kilobases of the 5-prime end of 176 GPCR genes, were screened for SNPs. Sequences flanking these SNPs were scored for transcription factor binding sites. Allelic pairs resulting in a significant score difference were predicted to influence the binding of transcription factors (TFs). Ten such SNPs were selected for mobility shift assays (EMSA), resulting in 7 of them exhibiting a reproducible shift. The full-length promoter regions with 4 of the 7 SNPs were cloned in a Luciferase based plasmid reporter system. Two out of the 4 SNPs exhibited differential promoter activity in several human cell lines. We propose a method for effective selection of functional, regulatory SNPs that are located in evolutionary conserved 5-prime flanking regions (5'-FR) regions of human genes and influence the activity of the transcriptional regulatory region. Some SNPs behave differently in different cell types.
    BMC Genomics 02/2005; 6:18. · 4.40 Impact Factor