Issam Al Diri, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor
  • Department of Ophthalmology (Developmental Biology-Secondary)

Education & Training

  • B.S., Biology, University of Aleppo, 1994
  • M.S., Zoology, Texas Tech University, 2005
  • Ph.D.,Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Utah, 2011

Research Interest Summary

Transcriptional regulation of retinal development and disease

Research Categories

Research Interests

Our group focuses on the genetic architecture that governs the formation and function of specific cell types in the retina.  In human retinal diseases many of the alterations in DNA sequence exist in non-coding regions, and our lab utilizes state of the art genomic profiling strategies to understand the importance of these regions to the initiation and/or progression of retinal abnormalities. Our previous studies have mapped human and mouse putative enhancer elements whose activity is correlated with the expression of genes important for retinal cell genesis, and we are currently testing the functionality of these enhancers using mouse and zebrafish model systems to determine how non-coding DNA landscape influences the generation of retinal neurons. This type of information is needed to better understand the molecular nature of human ocular disorders, particularly retinal degenerative diseases, and to pave the way for novel therapeutic strategies. Our overarching objective is to deconstruct the 3D nuclear organization of retinal cell types to gain a deep insight on the mechanisms underlying retina cell type generation, regeneration and reprograming, which could be useful for advancing cell replacement studies to treat optic neuropathies. 

Representative Publications

Aldiri I*, Valentine M*, Xu B*, Putnam D*, Griffiths L, Lupo M, Norrie J, Zhang J, Johnson D, Easton J, Shirinifard A, Shao Y, Honnell V, Frase S, Miller S, Shirinifard A, Zhang J, Johnson D, Frase, Miller S, Stewart V, Chen X and Dyer MA. 2018. The Nucleome of Developing Murine Rod Photoreceptors. bioRxiv. *These authors contribute equally.

Wang L*, Hiler D*, Xu B*, Aldiri I, Chen X, Zhou X, Griffiths L, Valentine M, Shirinifard A, Sablauer A, Thiagarajan S, Barabas M, Zhang J, Johnson D, Frase S, Dyer MA. 2018. Retina Cell Type DNA Methylation and Histone Modifications Predict Reprogramming Efficiency and Retinogenesis in 3D Organoid Cultures. Cell Reports. 22: 2601–2614. *These authors contribute equally.

Aldiri I*, Xu B*, Wang L, Chen X, Hiler D, Griffiths L, Valentine M, Shirinifard A, Thiagarajan S, Sablauer A, Barabas M, Zhang J, Johnson D, Frase S , Zhou X, Easton J, Zhang J, Mardis ER, Wilson RK, Downing JR, Dyer MA. 2017. The Dynamic Epigenetic Landscape of the Retina During Development, Reprogramming, and Tumorigenesis. Neuron. 94: 550–568. *These authors contribute equally.

Aldiri I*, Ajioka I*, Xu B, Zhang J, Chen X, Benavente C, Finkelstein D, Johnson D, Akiyama J, Pennacchio L, and Dyer MA. 2015. Brg1 Coordinates Multiple Processes During Retinogenesis and is a Tumor Suppressor in Retinoblastoma. Development. 142: 4092-4106. *These authors contribute equally.

Aldiri I, Moore KB, Hutcheson DA, Zhang J and Vetter ML. 2013. Polycomb repressive complex PRC2 regulates Xenopus retina development downstream of Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Development 140, 2867-2878.

Aldiri I and Vetter ML. 2012. PRC2 during vertebrate organogenesis: a complex in transition. Review. Dev Bio 367: 91-99

Full List of Publications