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MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit


Aitor Martinez











Dr Aitor Martinez studied Biochemistry at the University of the Basque Country UPV-EHU, where he also obtained a MSc in Biomedicine and Molecular Biology. Afterwards, he completed his PhD in an international program between CIC bioGUNE and University of Liverpool. During his PhD he studied the involvement of Parkinson’s Disease-associated genes on PINK1-Parkin dependent mitophagy in Drosophila and human cellular models under the supervision of Dr Ugo Mayor (CIC bioGUNE, UPV-EHU), Prof. Michael Clague and  Prof. Sylvie Urbé (UoL). After gaining industrial experience in the biotech company Innoprot S.L., Dr Martinez obtained a Ramon Areces Postdoctoral Fellowship to study the molecular mechanisms of mitochondrial quality control pathways as potential treatment for neurodegenerative diseases in Dr Alex Whitworth lab (MRC-MBU, University of Cambridge). Now, Dr Martinez has been awarded the Basque Government Postdoctoral Fellowship to complete his research in Dr Alex Whitworth lab and subsequently follow his career back at the Dept of Biochemistry at the University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU.

Research Interests

Neurodegenerative diseases (ND), such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis among others, represent a big challenge in an increasingly aging population. Several pathways have been shown to be impaired in ND, including failure of the ubiquitin-proteasome System, endo-lysosomal trafficking as well as defects in general autophagy and mitochondrial-quality-control pathways, such as mitophagy. However we still do not understand the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms.

Dr Aitor Martinez’s research aim is to decipher the molecular mechanisms that lead to ND in order to develop therapeutic strategies to revert and combat aging-related conditions. Currently, Dr Martinez is employing ubiquitin proteomics1and high-resolution microscopy2,3 techniques to identify pathways that regulate in vivo mitochondrial-quality-control mechanisms.

Selected Publications

1. Lee JJ, Sanchez-Martinez A, Martinez Zarate A, Benincá C, Mayor U, Clague MJ & Whitworth AJ (2018)
Basal mitophagy is widespread in but minimally affected by loss of Pink1 or parkin
J Cell Biol 217, 1613-1622

2. Martinez A, Lectez B, Ramirez J, Popp O, Sutherland JD, Urbé S, Dittmar G, Clague MJ & Mayor U (2017)
Quantitative proteomic analysis of Parkin substrates in Drosophila neurons
Mol Neurodegener 12, 29

3. Marcassa E, Kallinos A, Jardine J, Rusilowicz-Jones EV, Martinez A, Kuehl S, Islinger M, Clague MJ & Urbé S (2018)
Dual role of USP30 in controlling basal pexophagy and mitophagy
EMBO Rep 19, e45595