Rocio Gomez-Pastor, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience

Rocio Gomez-Pastor

Contact Info

Office Phone 612-626-6824

Lab Address:
4-280 WMBB



Research Summary/Interests

The principal aim of my laboratory is to understand the molecular pathways that drive neuronal death in Huntington´s Disease (HD), an inherited neurodegenerative disorder caused by a CAG triplet repeat expansion within exon-1 of the Huntingtin gene (Htt). Mutant Htt protein aggregates and accumulates in virtually all cell types in the body, but it predominantly affects Medium Spiny Neurons (MSNs), a neuronal type located in the striatum. We focus on studies directed at understanding what makes MSNs so susceptible to mHtt aggregation and death compared to other cell types in the brain. We also examine the role of Heat Shock Factor (HSF1), a transcription factor that regulates protein folding, inflammation, and apoptosis, in a cell type-specific process. To address this question we apply molecular biology, biochemistry, neuroanatomy, and imaging to different HD cellular and mouse models as well as human specimens. Our final goal is to provide new therapeutic strategies to prevent neuronal death and improve the quality of life of thousands of patients with this devastating neurodegenerative disease.


Zarate, N & Gomez-Pastor, R 2020, 'Excitatory synapse impairment and mitochondrial dysfunction in Huntington's disease: Heat shock factor 1 (HSF1) converging mechanisms', Neural Regeneration Research, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 69-70.

Liu, P, Smith, BR, Huang, ES, Mahesh, A, Vonsattel, JPG, Petersen, AJ, Gomez-Pastor, R & Ashe, KH 2019, 'A soluble truncated tau species related to cognitive dysfunction and caspase-2 is elevated in the brain of Huntington's disease patients', Acta Neuropathologica Communications, vol. 7, no. 1.

Intihar, TA, Martinez, EA & Gomez-Pastor, R 2019, 'Mitochondrial dysfunction in huntington’s disease; interplay between HSF1, p53 and PGC-1? transcription factors' Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, vol. 13, 103, pp. 1-10.

Gomez-Pastor, R, Burchfiel, ET & Thiele, DJ 2018, 'Regulation of heat shock transcription factors and their roles in physiology and disease' Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 4-19.

Gamero-Sandemetrio, E, Gomez-Pastor, R, Aranda, A & Matallana, E 2018, 'Validation and biochemical characterisation of beneficial argan oil treatment in biomass propagation for industrial active dry yeast production' Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies.

Gomez-Pastor, R, Burchfiel, ET, Neef, DW, Jaeger, AM, Cabiscol, E, McKinstry, SU, Doss, A, Aballay, A, Lo, DC, Akimov, SS, Ross, CA, Eroglu, C & Thiele, DJ 2017, 'Abnormal degradation of the neuronal stress-protective transcription factor HSF1 in Huntington's disease' Nature communications, vol. 8, 14405.

Pérez-Torrado, R, Gamero, E, Gómez-Pastor, R, Garre, E, Aranda, A & Matallana, E 2015, 'Yeast biomass, an optimised product with myriad applications in the food industry' Trends in Food Science and Technology, vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 167-175.

Gamero-Sandemetrio, E, Torrellas, M, Rábena, MT, Gómez-Pastor, R, Aranda, A & Matallana, E 2015, 'Food-grade argan oil supplementation in molasses enhances fermentative performance and antioxidant defenses of active dry wine yeast' AMB Express, vol. 5, no. 1, 75, pp. 1-11.

Pérez-Torrado, R, Llopis, S, Perrone, B, Gomez-Pastor, R, Hube, B & Querol, A 2015, 'Comparative genomic analysis reveals a critical role of de novo nucleotide biosynthesis for saccharomyces cerevisiae virulence' PloS one, vol. 10, no. 3, e0122382.

Fernández-Crespo, E, Gomez-Pastor, R, Matallana, E, Scalschi, L, Camañes, G & García-Agustín, P 2015, 'Role of NH4+Nutrition on Salt-Induced Oxidative Stress in Carrizo Citrange Plants' Acta Horticulturae, vol. 1065, pp. 1325-1334.