Álvaro Elorza, Ph.D.


AlvaroI am marine biologist from the Catholic University of North, Chile and Ph. D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile as well as from the University of Bordeaux 2 Victor Segalen, Bordeaux, France. My PhD thesis was on gene regulation of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial proteins in plants. I moved to Boston, MA, USA for my postdoctoral training in molecular physiology of mitochondria working with Dr. Orian Shirihai at Tufts University. My research was focused on mitochondrial dynamics and bioenergetics in animal’s models of diabetes and anemia, where it was discovered the mitochondrial quality control system. This discovery was published in the EMBO Journal and has been cited 2000 times. Right after my postdoc, I worked for the biotech company Seahorse Bioscience as application scientist, developing new applications for mitochondrial studies. Finally, I moved back to Chile in 2009 to settle down my own laboratory at University Andres Bello.

Research Description

My research is currently focused on:

–  Hematopoietic Stem Cells and Mitochondria. This involves the study of mitochondrial dynamics, selective mitochondrial autophagy (mitophagy), bioenergetics, remodeling of the respiratory chain and copper metabolism in erythropoiesis.

– The Discovery of novel mitophagy proteins. Through the study of erythropoiesis, we discovered 12 novel genes potentially involved in the axis mitochondrial dynamics-mitophagy. We have started the molecular and functional characterization of two of them.

– The role of mtDNA in aging. This is a new research line started in 2019 and involves prospective studies to develop of new diagnostic and therapeutic tools to combat aging-associated diseases.

Key Publications

  1. Jensen EL, Gonzalez-Ibanez AM, Mendoza P, Ruiz LM, Riedel CA, Simon F, Schuringa JJ, Elorza AA. (2019). Copper deficiency-induced anemia is caused by a mitochondrial metabolic reprograming in erythropoietic cells. Metallomics. 11(2):282-290. doi: 10.1039/c8mt00224j
  2. Ruiz, L.M., Jensen, E.L., Rossel, Y., Puas, G.I., Gonzalez-Ibanez, A.M., Bustos, R.I., Ferrick, D.A., Elorza, A.A. (2016) Non-cytotoxic copper overload boosts mitochondrial energy metabolism to modulate cell proliferation and differentiation in the human erythroleukemic cell line K562. Mitochondrion 29:18–30. doi 10.1016/j.mito.2016.04.005
  3. Ruiz, L.M., Jensen, E.L., Bustos, R.I., Argüello, G., Gutierrez-Garcia, R., Gonzalez, M., Hernandez, C., Paredes, R., Simon, F., Riedel, C., Ferrick, D., Elorza, A.A. (2014) Adaptive responses of mitochondria to mild copper deprivation involve changes in morphology, OXPHOS remodeling and bioenergetics. J. Cell. Physiol. 229:607-619. doi: 10.1002/jcp.24484.
  4. Bustos, R.I., Jensen, E.L,, Ruiz, L.M., Rivera, S., Ruiz, S., Simon, F., Riedel, C., Elorza, A.A. (2013) Copper deficiency alters cell bioenergetics and induces mitochondrial fusion through up- regulation of MFN2 and OPA1 in erythropoietic cells. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 437:426–432. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2013.06.095.
  5. Twig, G*., Elorza, A*., Molina, A. J., Mohamed, H., Wikstrom, J.D., Walzer, G., Stiles, L., Haigh, S. E., Katz, S., Las, G., Alroy, J., Wu, M., Py, B. F., Yuan, J., Deeney, J. T., Corkey, B. E., Shirihai, O. S. (2008). Fission and selective fusion govern mitochondrial segregation and elimination by autophagy. EMBO J. 27(2):433-46. doi: 10.1038/sj.emboj.7601963