Rocio Gomez-Pastor, PhD

Assistant Professor,

Rocio Gomez-Pastor

Contact Info

Office Phone 612-626-6824

Office Address:
4-146 WMBB

Lab Address:
4-280 WMBB

Assistant Professor



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.


Regulation of heat shock transcription factors and their roles in physiology and disease. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2017 Aug 30. doi: 10.1038/nrm.2017.73

Abnormal degradation of the neuronal stress-protective transcription factor HSF1 in Huntington's disease. Nat Commun. 2017 Feb 13;8:14405

A direct regulatory interaction between chaperonin TRiC and stress-responsive transcription factor HSF1. Cell Rep. 2014 Nov 6;9(3):955-66. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.09.056

Antioxidant compound supplementation prevents oxidative damage in a Drosophila model of Parkinson's disease. Free Radic Biol Med. 2013 Aug;61:151-60. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2013.03.021

Effects of pharmacological agents on the lifespan phenotype of Drosophila DJ-1beta mutants. Gene. 2010 Aug 15;462(1-2):26-33. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2010.04.009.