Diego Rojas Rivera

Assistant Professor

Dr. Diego Rojas Rivera studied Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Universidad de Chile. He obtained his PhD in Biochemistry at the Universidad de Chile. His Ph.D. thesis was awarded by the “Chilean Academic of Science” and the “Allende-Connelly Foundation”. Subsequently, He did his first post-doctorate at the Faculty of Medicine of the same University. Then, He moved to Belgium to do a second postdoctoral training with Dr. Mathieu Bertrand and Dr. Peter Vandenabeele at the Inflammation Research Center (IRC), Ghent University. Currently, He is Assistant Professor at Universidad Mayor and his lab is focussed on the molecular characterization of the cell death pathways induced by ER stress and downstream of TNFR1. Also, he works on identifying new regulators of different cell death modalities (apoptosis and necroptosis) in several cellular systems.

Diego Rojas Rivera


Beltran S, Nassif M, Vicencio E, Arcos J, Labrador L, Cortes BI, Cortez C, Bergmann CA, Espinoza S, Hernandez MF, Matamala JM, Bargsted L, Matus S, Rojas-Rivera D, Bertrand MJM, Medinas DB, Hetz C, Manque PA, Woehlbier U. 2019. Network approach identifies Pacer as an autophagy protein involved in ALS pathogenesis. Mol Neurodegeneration 14, 14.

Dondelinger Y, Delanghe T, Priem D, Wynosky-Dolfi MA, Sorobetea D, Rojas-Rivera D, Giansanti P, Roelandt R, Gropengiesser J, Ruckdeschel K, Savvides SN, Heck AJR, Vandenabeele P, Brodsky IE, Bertrand MJM. 2019. Serine 25 phosphorylation inhibits RIPK1 kinase-dependent cell death in models of infection and inflammation. Nature Communications 10(1):1729.

*Rojas-Rivera D, et al. ER stress sensing mechanism: Putting off the brake on UPR transducers. Oncotarget, 2018.

*Rojas-Rivera D. Sepúlveda D. et al. Interactome screening identifies the ER luminal chaperone Hsp47 as a novel regulator of the unfolded protein response (UPR) sensor IRE1a. Mol Cell, 2018 (Cover illustration).

Dondelinger Y, Delanghe T, Rojas-Rivera D, et al. MK2 phosphorylation of regulates TNF-mediated cell death. Nature Cell Biology, 2017.

*Rojas-Rivera D, et al. When PERK inhibitors turn out to be new potent RIPK1 inhibitors: Critical issues on the specificity and use of GSK2606414 and GSK2656157. Cell Death Differentiation, 2017.

Aguileta MA, Rojas-Rivera D, et al. siRNA Screen reveals the pro-survival effect of protein kinase A (PKA) activation in conditions of unresolved endoplasmic reticulum stress. Cell death and differentiation 2016.

Dufei E, Sepulveda D, Rojas-Rivera D and Hetz C. Cellular Mechanisms of Endoplasmic Reticulum of Stress. American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology 2015.

*Rojas-Rivera D, Hetz C. TMBIM protein family: ancestral regulators of cell death. Oncogene 2014.

Groenendyk J, Peng Z, Dudek E, Fan X, Mizianty MJ, Rojas-Rivera D et al. Interplay between the oxidoreductase PDIA6 and microRNA-322 controls the response to disrupted endoplasmic reticulum calcium homeostasis. Science signaling 2014; 7: ra54.

Nassif M, Valenzuela V, Rojas-Rivera D, et al. Pathogenic role of BECN1/Beclin 1 in the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Autophagy, 2014; 10: 1256-1271.

Kiviluoto S, Luyten T, Schneider L, Lisak D, Rojas-Rivera D, et al. Bax Inhibitor-1-mediated Ca2+ leak is decreased by cytosolic acidosis. Cell calcium, 2013; 54: 186-192.

Urra H, Dufey E, Lisbona F, Rojas-Rivera D, Hetz C. When ER stress reaches a dead end. Biochimica et biophysica acta, 2013; 1833: 3507-3517.

Zamorano S, Rojas-Rivera D, et al. A BAX/BAK and cyclophilin D-independent intrinsic apoptosis pathway. PloS one, 2012; 7: e37782.

Rodriguez DA, Zamorano S, Lisbona F, Rojas-Rivera D, Urra H, Cubillos-Ruiz JR et al. BH3-only proteins are part of a regulatory network that control the sustained signalling of the unfolded protein response sensor IRE1alpha. The EMBO journal, 2012; 31: 2322-2335.

*Rojas-Rivera D, et al. TMBIM3/GRINA is a novel unfolded protein response (UPR) target gene that controls apoptosis through the modulation of ER calcium homeostasis. Cell death and differentiation 2012; 19: 1013-1026.

Castillo K, Rojas-Rivera D, et al. BAX inhibitor-1 regulates autophagy by controlling the IRE1alpha branch of the unfolded protein response. The EMBO journal 2011; 30: 4465-4478.

Rodriguez D, Rojas-Rivera D, Hetz C. Integrating stress signals at the endoplasmic reticulum: The BCL-2 protein family rheostat. Biochimica et biophysica acta 2011; 1813: 564-574.

*Rojas-Rivera D, et al. Alternative functions of the BCL-2 protein family at the endoplasmic reticulum. Advances in experimental medicine and biology 2010; 687: 33-47.

Rojas-Rivera D, Diaz-Elizondo J, Parra V, Salas D, Contreras A, Toro B et al. Regulatory volume decrease in cardiomyocytes is modulated by calcium influx and reactive oxygen species. FEBS letters 2009; 583: 3485-3492.

Lisbona F, Rojas-Rivera D, et al. BAX inhibitor-1 is a negative regulator of the ER stress sensor IRE1alpha. Molecular cell 2009; 33: 679-691. (Cover illustration). Commented in Mol Cell (2009), 33:669-70

Miranda R, Castro P, Hugo Verdejo P, Chiong M, Díaz-Araya G, Mellado R, Rojas-Rivera D, et al. Oxidative stress and inflammation in heart failure: Mechanisms of damage and therapeutic alternatives. Rev Med Chil 2007, 135: 1056- 1063.

Diaz-Elizondo J, Chiong M, Rojas-Rivera D, et al. Reactive oxygen species inhibit hyposmotic stress-dependent volume regulation in cultured rat cardiomyocytes. Biochemical and biophysical research communications 2006; 350: 1076-1081.

Aránguíz P, Contreras A, Rojas-Rivera D, et al. Autofagía del cardiomiocito:¿Un nuevo mecanismo de adaptación al estrés o de muerte celular?. Rev Card Chil. 25: 331-338.

Contreras A, Aránguiz P, Díaz J, Chiong M, Muños JP, Parra V, Ibarra C, Rojas-Rivera D, et al. IGF-1: Un Factor de crecimiento con acciones cardiovasculares pleiotrópicas. Rev Card Chil, 25: 317-330.


TNF plays an important role in the inflammatory response. Depending on the cellular context, TNF can affect cell survival, inducing apoptosis or necroptosis. On the other hand, autophagy contributes to cell survival, and thus it has been established that it has a role in the regulation of cell death. However, little is known about the basic molecular mechanisms, and it is still unknown if autophagy directly controls programmed cell death, generated under pro-inflammatory conditions. The "Mesenchymal stem cells" (MSC) are a group of widely used cells and are currently proposed as a therapeutic alternative in different diseases. Dr. Diego Rojas Rivera's group has focused on the possible role of some autophagy regulators in the control of TNF-induced cell death in MSC. This is aimed at improving the low cell survival rate experienced by MSCs after being transplanted under pro-inflammatory conditions, which limits their therapeutic potential.


Name: FONDECYT Iniciacion

Title: Role of Rubicon and Pacer in RIPK1- Dependent Apoptosis Induced by TNF.

Sponsor Institution: FONDECYT

Responsible Investigator: Diego Rojas

Date of Execution: 2018-2021

Name: FONDECYT Regular

Title: Neuronal exosomes characterization in Chilean Parkinson’s disease patients: Possible contribution of IGF2 in alpha-synuclein exosomal secretion.

Sponsor Institution: FONDECYT

Responsible Investigator: Rene Vidal

Co-Investigator: Diego Rojas

Date of Execution: 2019-2022



Dr. Patricio Manque, Center for Integrative Biology, Universidad Mayor, Chile

Dr. Ute Woehlbier, Center for Integrative Biology, Universidad Mayor, Chile

Dr. René Vidal, Center fo Integrativa Biology, Universidad Mayor, Chile


Mathieu Bertrand, Inflammation Research Center, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

Peter Vandenabeele, Inflammation Research Center, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium