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Diego Zorio Ph.D.

Diego Zorio Ph.D.

Research Faculty I
(850) 645-6447
Main Campus


My Research objectives are to apply my extensive background and skills with every aspect of biochemistry, molecular genetics and genomics, to further develop my career as a scientist. As a graduate student in Indiana University, Bloomington IN, I studied chromosomal organization and RNA processing in the nematode C. elegans. We have made two important discoveries: We described that operons do exist in eukaryotes and we discovered the molecule that recognizes 3’ splice sites in eukaryotes. As a postdoctoral fellow in University of Colorado Health Sciences Center (UCHSC) I was awarded the prestigious Damon Runyon Fellowship to study different aspects in the emerging field of co-transcriptional processing. Specifically I worked with cellular factors that can regulate pre-mRNA capping, once thought to be a constitutive process. At the end of my postdoctoral training I was promoted to a Faculty position as an Instructor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics (UCHSCS). In June of 2005 I was hired to establish the Functional Genomics program at Taxolog, Inc. a world leader biotech company in synthesis of taxanes There my group established several gene associated profiles during taxane-induced cellular responses and the development of the Multi Drug Resistance trait (MDR). In 2009, I was hired as an Associate Scholar in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Dept. at Florida State University and continue the studies initiated during my time at Taxolog, Inc. In 2015 I was hired as a Research Faculty in the Department of Biomedical Sciences in the College of Medicine at FSU to study neuronal plasticity in the Auditory System during brain development.


Postdoctoral Research, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center UCHSC, Denver CO
Ph.D., Indiana University, Bloomington, IN – MCDB program
B.S., Federal University Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, UFRJ.

Career Experience

2015-Present Research Faculty I - Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Medicine, Florida State University
2009-2015 Associate Scholar - Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Florida State University
2005-2009 Principal Investigator – Taxolog, Inc. Tallahassee, FL
2004-2005 Instructor – Department of Chemistry and Molecular Genetics, UCHSC, Denver CO


Genentech "Advanced Neurodegenerative Disease Research, Grant # G-47608" - PI (2016)
Florida State University CRC “Planning Grant” – Co-PI (2014)
Florida State University CRC “Multidisciplinary Support Award Grant” – Co-PI (2013)
Florida State University GAP Grant – Co-PI (2011)
Cancer League of Colorado Research Grant (2004)
Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Postdoctoral Fellowship (2000)
Research Award – Outstanding Research in the Annual Student Research Forum, UCHSC. (1999)
International Scholarship, CNPq. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1993)
Master Fellowship, CAPES. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1991)
Undergraduate Fellowship, FAPERJ. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1988)

Research Focus

I am interested in development and plasticity of neuronal circuits and their pathology in neurodevelopmental disorders. In particular we study the role of the fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) in developing auditory circuits, during brain development. Loss of FMRP results in abnormal neurons in the brain and the fragile X syndrome, the leading known genetic cause of autism.


Kenworthy, R., DeLigio, J.T., and Zorio, D. A. R. (2017). Micro-RNA149 Confers Taxane Resistance to Malignant Mesothelioma Cells via Regulation of P-glycoprotein Expression. Submitted

Sakano, H., Zorio, D. A. R., Wang, X., Ting, S., Noble, W. S., MacCoss, M. J., Rubel, E. W., and Wang, Y.(2017). Nucleus Laminaris Proteomic Analysis Reveals Cell-Group Specific Substrates of the Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein. In press

Wang, Y., Zorio, D. A. R. and Karten, H. J. (2017). Heterogeneous Organization and Connectivity of the Chicken Auditory Thalamus (Gallus gallus). J Comp Neurol. In press

Bosco, D. B., Roycik, M. D., Jin, Y., Schwartz, M. A., Lively, T. J., Zorio, D. A. R., Van Doren, S. R., and Sang, Q-X. A. (2017). A New Synthetic Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitor Reduces Human Mesenchymal Stem Cell Adipogenesis. PLoS One. 12(2):e0172925

Rexford, A. M., Zorio, D. A. R. and Miller, B. G. (2017) Biochemical and Biophysical Investigations of the Interaction between Human Glucokinase and Pro-apoptotic BAD. PLoS One. 12(2):e0171587

Zorio, D. A. R. , Jackson, C., Yong, L., Rubel, E. W., and Wang,Y. (2017). Cellular Distribution of the Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein in the Mouse Brain. J Comp Neurol. 525(4): 818-849

Kaya, K., Roy, S., Nogues, J. C., Echeverri, J. C. R., Sokolikj, Z., Zorio, D. A., and Alabugin, I. V. (2016). Optimizing Protonation States for Selective Double Strand DNA Photocleavage in Hypoxic Tumors pH-Gated Transitions of Lysine Dipeptides. J Med Chem. 59(18): 8634-47

Bosco, D., Kenworthy, R., Zorio, D. A. R.* and Sang, Q-X. A. (2015) Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells are Resistant to Paclitaxel by Adopting a Non-Proliferative Fibroblastic State. PLoS One. 10(6):e012851. * Co-corresponding authors

Martins, A. S., Parvatiyar, M. S., Feng, H-F., Bos, M. J., Martinez, D. G., Vukmirovic, M., Turna, R., Sanches-Gonzalez, M. A., Badger, C-D., Zorio, D. A., Singh, R. K.,Wang, Y., Jin, J-P., Ackerman, M. J., and Pinto, J. R. (2015) In vivo Analysis of Troponin C Knock-in (A8V) Mice: Evidence that TNNC1 Is a Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Susceptibility Gene. Circ Cardiovasc Genet. Circ Cardiovasc Genet. 8(5):653-64

Khamis, I. Z., Zorio, D. A. R.*, Chung, L. W. K., and Sang, Q-X. A*. (2013). The Anti-inflammatory Role of Endometase/Matrilysin-2 in Human Prostate Cancer Cells. . J Cancer. 4, 296-303. *Co-corresponding authors

Yang, W-Y., Roy, S., Phrathep, B., Rengert, Z., Kenworthy, R., Zorio, D. A. R. and Alabugin, Y.V. (2011) Engineering pH-Gated Transitions for Selective and Efficient Double Strand DNA Photocleavage in Hypoxic Tumors. J Med Chem. 54, 8501-16.

Yang, W-Y., Marrone,S. A., Minors, N., Zorio, D. A. R. and Alabugin, Y. V. (2011) Fine-tuning alkyne cycloadditions: Insights into photochemistry responsible for the double-strand DNA cleavage via structural perturbations in diaryl alkyne conjugates.s. Beilstein J. Org. Chem. 7, 813–823.

DeLigio, T. and Zorio, D. A. R. (2009). Early Growth Response 1 (EGR1): A gene with as many names as biological functions. Cancer Biol Ther. 8:20, 1885-1888.

DeLigio, T., Velkova, A, Zorio, D. A. R. and Monteiro, A. (2009) Can BRCA1 predict response to taxane-based cancer therapy? Anticancer Agents Med. Chem. 9, 543-549.

Hollins, C., Zorio, D. A. R., MacMorris, M. and Blumenthal, T. (2005). U2AF Binding selects for the high conservation of the C. elegans 3’splice site. RNA 11, 248-253.

*Schroeder, S., *Zorio, D. A. R., Schwer, B., Shuman, S. and Bentley, D. (2004). Yeast mRNA cap methyltransferase Abd-1 functions as a transcription factor for RNA polymearse II. Mol Cell 13, 377-387. *Co-authors.

Bird, G. A., Zorio, D. A. R. and Bentley, D. L. (2004). RNA polymerase II CTD phosphorylation is required for co-transcriptional pre-mRNA splicing and 3’ end formation. Mol. Cell. Biol. 24, 8963-8969.

Zorio, D. A. R. and Bentley, D. L. (2004).The link between mRNA processing and transcription: communication works both ways. Exp. Cell Res 296, 91-97.

Zorio, D. A. R. and Bentley, D. L. (2001). Transcription Elongation: The "Foggy" Is lifting...Curr. Biol 11, R144-146.

Penalva, L. O. F. and Zorio, D. A. R. (2001). Processing the Genetic Information. Review article in Portuguese. Ciência Hoje 29 (171), 34-39.

Zorio, D. A. R. and Blumenthal, T. (1999). Both subunits of U2AF recognize the 3’ splice site in C. elegans. Nature 402, 835-838.

Zorio, D. A. R. and Blumenthal, T. (1999). U2AF35 is encoded by an essential gene clustered in an operon with RRM/cyclophilin in C. elegans. RNA 5, 487-494.

MacMorris, M., Zorio, D. A. R. and Blumenthal T. (1999). An exon that prevents transport of a mature mRNA. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 96, 3813-3818.

Zorio, D. A. R., Lea, K., and Blumenthal, T. (1997). Cloning of Caenorhabditis U2AF65: an alternatively spliced RNA containing a novel exon. Mol. Cell. Biol. 17, 946-953.

Evans, D., Zorio, D. A. R., MacMorris, M., Winter, C. E., Lea, K. and Blumenthal, T. (1997). Operons and SL2 Trans-splicing exist in nematodes outside the genus Caenorhabditis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 94, 9751-9756.

Zorio, D. A. R. and Blumenthal, T. (1995) Coregulated gene clusters in animals Journal of NIH Research 7, 53-54.

Zorio, D. A. R., Cheng, N., Blumenthal, T. and Spieth, J. (1994). Operons represents a common form of chromosomal organization in C. elegans. Nature 372, 270-272.

Moura-Neto, R. S., Silva, R., Carvalho, E. F. and Zorio, D. A. R.(1993). Comparison of Rio de Janeiro DNA Typing data with the FBI Worldwide study. Journal of the Brazilian Association for the Advancement of Science. 45, 258-262.