Mohd Ghows Mohd Azzam, Associate Professor
 /  Mohd Ghows Mohd Azzam, Associate Professor

Mohd Ghows Mohd Azzam, Associate Professor


Associate Professor
B.Sc. (Hons), Universiti Sains Malaysia
M.Sc., University of Sussex, UK
D. Phil, University of Oxford, UK
Postdoc., University of Oxford, UK
Ext: 4005
Molecular and Cell Biology

Our group uses animal models such as the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster), Zebrafish (Danio rerio) and the emerging mosquito (Aedes aegypti) as well as cell culture to understand specific pathways and diseases. Using the latest techniques in molecular biology and biotechnology, we focus our research towards the understanding of the mechanism and pathway to develop novel therapeutic approaches. In order to do this, we take advantage of all the cutting edge techniques including molecular biology, biochemistry (RNA and DNA), genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics, advance imaging and genome engineering (CRISPR and TALENs).

1. CTP synthase and cytoophidia
CTP synthase have been shown to play a role in human diseases and cancers (e.g. leukaemia, hepatomas, colon cancer, african sleeping sickness, malaria, and infectious blindness). We are using model organisms, fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster), Zebrafish (Danio rerio) and mosquitos (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus) to understand the biochemical pathway of CTP synthase.
Cytoophidia (green), labelled by CTP Synthase (CTPS) antibody staining in the ovary of Drosophila melanogaster.

2. Small RNA Biology (miRNA and siRNA)
Another research focus is on small RNA biology. One of the goal is to elucidate the role of miRNA regulation on CTP synthase and its related diseases. We are also characterizing and studying mosquito small RNAs. miRNA, mirtron and siRNA biogenesis in Drosophila
  1. Infectious disease
  Dengue fever, spread by Aedes mosquitoes, has a massive burden on the economy of affected countries, especially through the costs of health care provision and loss of productivity. In Asia, there has been a recent surge of dengue, a viral disease spread by Aedes mosquitoes, and in Malaysia alone, more than 100,000 cases and 237 deaths were reported in 2016. Moreover, Zika virus, again spread by Aedes mosquitoes, is another global threat with more than 200,000 worldwide cases reported in the last year (PAHO). Together, over 3.9 billion people are at serious risk of viral infection from Aedes mosquitoes. Besides the toll on human life, mosquito borne diseases are a massive burden toward the economy of the affected countries, especially through the costs of health care and lost productivity when people are sick. Without reliable vaccines, controlling mosquitoes carrying the viruses could be the best way to combat epidemics. Increasing attention is thus being focused on the interactions of the viruses within the mosquito to understand the mechanisms used to disseminate itself specifically through Aedes mosquitoes. These mechanisms may provide targets to control disease transmission or allowing for early detection of a possible epidemic.
My group have used small RNA sequencing and transcriptomics to understand the pathogenesis involved in dengue and Zika virus replication. To be transmitted, the virus needs to be taken up by the Aedes mosquito whilst blood feeding. It then has to invade the stomach cells and hijack the cell’s metabolic pathways to replicate sufficiently to be passed on. Eventually the viruses break through the stomach wall to invade the salivary glands in preparation for transfer to the next human host whilst feeding. From our research, we found that the immunity pathway as well as the non-coding RNA (small RNA and lincRNA) pathway that is known to play a role in virus infection are severely affected in the mosquito.
Long non-coding RNA in dengue infected mosquitos  
  • Characterizing CTP synthase and cytoophidia in fruitfly, zebrafish and mosquito
  • Understanding the role of small RNAs in cytoophidia assembly
  • Investigating the relationship of small RNAs in dengue-infected mosquito
University of Oxford, UK RIKEN, Japan ShanghaiTech University, China National VCRU, USM IPPT, USM UKM UPM UNIMAS
  1. Azlan, A., Obeidat, S.M., Yunus, M.A. and Azzam, G. (2018). Transcriptome profiles and novel lncRNA identification of Aedes aegypti cells in response to dengue virus serotype 1. In review at PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. Manuscript available in BioRxiv (BIORXIV/2018/422170)
  2. Woo, W.K., Dzaki, N. and Azzam, G. (2018). CTP synthase regulation by miR-975 controls cell proliferation and differentiation in Drosophila melanogaster. In review at PLoS Genetics. Manuscript available in BioRxiv (BIORXIV/2018/402024)
  3. Dzaki, N ., Woo, W.K. and Azzam, G. (2018). MicroRNA regulation of CTP synthase and cytoophidium in Drosophila melanogaster. In review in Scientific Reports. Manuscript available in BioRxiv (BIORXIV/2018/393181)
  4. Dzaki, N., Purushodman, K., Woo, W.K. and Azzam, G. (2018). Molecular characterization of CTP Synthase in Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus In revision at Journal of Genetics and Genomics.
  5. Dzaki, N., Wahab, W., Azlan, A. and Azzam, G. (2018). CTP synthase knockdown during early development distorts the nascent vertebral column and causes fluid retention in multiple tissues in zebrafish. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communication. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2018.09.074
  6. Dzaki, N. and Azzam G. (2018). Assessment of Aedes albopictus reference genes for quantitative PCR at different stages of development. PLoS One. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0194664
  7. Toegel T.*, Azzam G.*, Lee E., Tan Y., Fa M. and Fulga T.A. (2017). (*Joint first authors) A multiplexable TALE-based binary expression system for in vivo cellular interaction studies. Nature Communication. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01592-3.
  8. Dzaki N., Ramli K.N., Azlan A., Ishak I.H. and Azzam G. (2017). Evaluation of reference genes at different developmental stages for quantitative real-time PCR in Aedes aegypti. Scientific Reports. DOI: 10.1038/srep43618
  9. Tan F. and Azzam G. (2017) Drosophila melanogaster – Deciphering Alzheimer’s disease. Malays J Med Sci. 2017;24(2):6–20. doi: 10.21315/mjms2017.24.2.2
  10. Azlan, A., Dzaki, N. and Azzam, G. (2016). Argonaute: the executor of small RNA function. Journal of Genetics and Genomics. doi: 1016/j.jgg.2016.06.002
  11. Aughey GN, Grice SJ, Shen QJ, Xu Y, Chang CC, Azzam G, Wang PY, Freeman-Mills L, Pai LM, Sung LY, Yan J, Liu JL. (2014). Nucleotide synthesis is regulated by cytoophidium formation during neurodevelopment and adaptive metabolism. Biology Open. 2014 Oct 17;3(11):1045-56. doi: 10.1242/bio.201410165.
  12. Bassett, A.*, Azzam, G.*, Wheatley, L.*,Tibbit, C., Rajakumar, T., McGowan, S., Stanger, N., Taylor, S., Ponting, CP., Sauka-Spengler, T., Liu, JL. and Fulga, TA.* (2014). (*Joint first authors) Understanding functional miRNA–target interactions in vivo by site-specific genome engineering. Nature Communication 5:4640 (2014). doi:10.1038/ncomms5640
  13. Smibert, P.*, Yang J.*, Azzam, G.*, Liu, JL., Lai, EC. (2013). (*Joint first authors) Homeostatic control of Argonaute stability by microRNAs. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 20: 789–795 (2013) doi:10.1038/nsmb.2606
  14. Azzam, G. and Liu, JL. (2013). Only one isoform of Drosophila CTP synthase forms the cytoophidium. PLoS Genetics 9(2): e1003256. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003256
  15. Azzam, G., Smibert, P., Lai, EC. and Liu JL. (2012). Drosophila Argonaute 1 and its miRNA biogenesis partners are required for oocyte formation and germline cell division. Developmental Biology (2): 384-94. (Cover story)
  16. Thomsen, S., Azzam, G., Kaschula, R., Lucy S. Williams, and Alonso, C.R. (2010). Developmental RNA processing of 3'UTRs in Hox mRNAs as a context-dependent mechanism modulating visibility to microRNAs. Development, 137 (17):2951-2960 [With "In this issue" highlight comment in Development 137 (17)] [RECOMMENDED by the Faculty of 1000 Biology, see McDougall C, Degnan B: 2010.]
  17. Siti Azizah, M.N., Abu Talib A., Mohd Ghows, M.A., and Samsudin B. (2008). A Preliminary Genetic Investigation of Rastrelliger kanagurta Based on Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA and Mitochondrial ND2 Gene. Wetland Science 6 No.4 Dec, 2008
September 2022

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