Mitochondrial Quality Control in the Nervous System

Leo J. Pallanck
University of Washington, USA
14:00~14:45,November 19th, 2015



Mitochondria perform a number of essential cellular functions, but their damage can lead to bioenergetic failure and the release of cytotoxins that are implicated in aging and in neurodegenerative disease. Fortunately, eukaryotes have evolved a number of cellular pathways to prevent and repair damaged mitochondria, and in extreme circumstances, to discard extensively damaged mitochondria altogether through a process termed mitophagy. Although the molecular mechanisms underlying the prevention and repair of damaged mitochondria have been long studied, the machinery tasked with the detection and degradation of damaged mitochondria emerged only recently through studies of the PINK1 and Parkin genes, mutations of which cause Parkinson’s disease. My talk will provide an overview of the current model by which damaged mitochondria are detected and degraded. I will also describe some of our recent proteomic and genetic data that bears on the mechanisms by which mitochondria are damaged and degraded in the nervous system, and the neurological consequences of accumulated mitochondrial damage.


Professional Experience:


  • 2011-present Professor; Department of Genome Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
  • 2004-2011 Associate Professor; Department of Genome Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
  • 1997-2004 Postdoctoral Research; Laboratory of Genetics, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • 1992-1997 Conducted genetic studies of neurotransmitter release mechanisms in the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster), with Dr. Barry Ganetzky.
  • 1992 Ph.D., Department of Developmental and Molecular Biology; Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York. Dissertation: The Role of the Anticodon and Discriminator Base in tRNA Identity, in vivo. Advisor: Dr. LaDonne Schulman.
  • 1985 B.S., Biochemistry; University of California-Davis. Graduation with honors




National Service (2005-present):


  • ad hoc reviewer on the following NIH study sections: NDBG study section (2004-2006); SRB study section (2005, 2006); MDCN study section (2005, 2008); ZIJ-2 study section (2008)
  • Regular reviewer on the NOMD study section (2008-2014)
  • ad hoc reviewer for NSF (2000-present)
  • Regular reviewer for the following journals: Development; Disease Mechanisms and Models; EMBO reports; Experimental Neurology; Genetics; Journal of Cell Biology; Journal of Neurosciences; Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience; Nature; Nature Neurosciences; Neuron; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; Science; etc.


Local Service(2005-present):


  • Center on Human Development and Disability Genetics core advisory committee, 2005-present.
  • Biochemistry Department graduate training program review committee, October 23-24th, 2008.
  • Chair, Department of Genome Sciences Annual Symposium organizing committee, April 2009
  • Organizer of the Department of Genome Science summer Public Lecture series, 2009-2012
  • Chair, Department of Genome Sciences seminar committee, 2011
  • Co-Chair, Department of Genome Sciences seminar committee, 2012