Diego Rincon-Limas, Ph.D

Image of Dr. Limas with contact information. Contact information can also be found at the bottom of the page.


Cover of UF Post Depicting a fly at a microscopeDr. Rincon-Limas received a bachelor degree on Biopharmaceutical Chemistry from the Autonomous University of Tamaulipas in Reynosa, Mexico. He also obtained a Master’s degree in Microbiology and a summa cum laude Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering at the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon in Monterrey, Mexico. He then moved to Baylor College of Medicine in Houston to conduct his postdoctoral training in the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics, where he got training in Developmental Biology and Neurobiology. He got his first Faculty position in the Department of Neurology and the Mitchell Center for Neurodegenerative Disorders at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, and then moved to the University of Florida to join the Department of Neurology at the McKnight Brain Institute. He has a joint appointment in the Department of Neuroscience and is also a member of the UF Genetics Institute, the Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease (CTRND), and the Center for Neurogenetics..

Research Interests

Image of a flyNeurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and prion diseases, are some of the most dreaded conditions in our society. These conditions affect millions of people worldwide, represent a huge and increasing burden on the health-care system, and constitute one of the major challenges of modern medicine. Unfortunately, the pathogenic mechanisms underlying these debilitating disorders are poorly understood and, therefore, there are no effective therapies to avoid their fatal outcome.

My laboratory focuses on the development and application of new technologies to define the molecular pathways leading to neurodegeneration and to identify potential therapeutic targets. To do so, we utilize the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to model molecular, biochemical and pathological aspects of human neurodegenerative conditions. This is achieved by disrupting homologous genes in Drosophila, or by expressing a human disease gene in this organism. Strikingly, the remarkable genetic conservation from flies to humans leads to neurological phenotypes that closely mimic the human disease. Once the model is validated, we apply a multidisciplinary approach combining Drosophila genetics, neurobiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, optogenetics and systems biology. My goal is to use this multidisciplinary effort to generate molecular portraits of these devastating disorders to dissect unknown, fundamental events in their respective pathologies.

image of fly brain with and without alzheimerAreas of Research

  • Drosophila models of human neurological disorders
  • Genetic suppressors of Amyloid-beta neurotoxicity
  • Molecular mechanisms underlying TDP-43 proteinopathies
  • The role of the ER stress in neurodegenerative conditions
  • Design and generation of new optogenetic expression systems
  • Teaching Interests

image of phospho TFP-43 in a fly brain

Awards and Recognition

Exemplary Teacher Award, University of Florida College of Medicine(2018)
University of Florida Term Professorship (2017-Present)
Exemplary Teacher Award, University of Florida College of Medicine (2017)
Department of Neurology Basic Science Research Award, University of Florida (2016)

Active Grants

R01AG059871/ NIH-NIA  “Deconstructing and challenging TDP-43 proteinopathies: from FTLD-ALS to Alzheimer’s disease” – Role: PI

R21AG059143/ NIH-NIA  “Exploring the unparalleled protection of RAF2 against Abeta42 and tau toxicity” – Role: PI

1R21AG056992/ NIH-NIA  “Uncovering targets that block pathological interactions between Abeta and tau” – Role: PI

R21NS096647/ NIH-NINDS  “Targeting nuclear transport dysfunction in TDP-43 proteinopathies” – Role: PI

7AZ12/ Florida Department of Health Ed and Ethel Moore Alzheimer’s Disease Program  “Large-scale identification of genes that suppress concurrent Abeta42 and tau pathology in vivo” – Role: PI

Contact Information


Department of Neurology
University of Florida College of Medicine
HSC Box 100236
Gainesville, FL 32610-0236
(352) 273-9689 (phone)
(352) 273-5575 (fax)

Selected Publications

Drosophila mushroom bodies imageMoore BD, Martin J, de Mena L, Sanchez J, Cruz PE, Ceballos-Diaz C, Ladd TB, Ran Y, Levites Y, Kukar TL, Kurian JJ, McKenna R, Koo EH, Borchelt DR, Janus C, Rincon-Limas DE, Fernandez-Funez P, Golde TE (2018). Short Aβ peptides attenuate Aβ42 toxicity in vivo. Journal of Experimental Medicine 215(1):283-301. doi: 10.1084/jem.20170600 (featured in cover page).

Martín-Peña A, Rincon-Limas DE, Fernandez-Funez P (2018). Engineered Hsp70 chaperones prevent Aβ42-induced memory impairments in a Drosophila model of Alzheimer’s disease. Scientific Reports 8(1):9915. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-28341-w.

Allbee AW, Rincon-Limas DE, Biteau B (2018). Lmx1a is required for the development of the ovarian stem cell niche in Drosophila. Development 145(8). pii: dev163394. doi: 10.1242/dev.163394.

De Mena L, Rizk P, Rincon-Limas DE (2018). Bringing light to transcription: the optogenetics repertoire.  Frontiers in Genetics doi: 10.3389/fgene.2018.00518.

Martin-Peña A, Rincon-Limas DE, Fernandez-Funez P. (2017) Anti-Aβ single-chain variable fragment antibodies restore memory acquisition in a Drosophila model of Alzheimer’s disease.  Sci Rep. 2017 Sep 12;7(1):11268. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-11594-2.

Fernandez-Funez, Sanchez-Garcia J, de Mena L, Zhang Y, Levites Y, Khare S, Golde TE, and Rincon-Limas DE (2016). Holdase activity of secreted Hsp70 masks amyloid-β42 neurotoxicity in Drosophila. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. (PNAS) 113(35):E5212-21. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1608045113.

Minjarez B, Calderón-González KG, Rustarazo ML, Herrera-Aguirre ME, Labra-Barrios ML, Rincon-Limas DE, Del Pino MM, Mena R, Luna-Arias JP (2016). Identification of proteins that are differentially expressed in brains with Alzheimer’s disease using iTRAQ labeling and tandem mass spectrometry. Journal of Proteomics 139:103-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2016.03.022.

Fernandez-Funez, Sanchez-Garcia J, de Mena L, Zhang Y, Golde TE, Levites Y, and Rincon-Limas DE (2015). Anti-Aβ single chain variable fragment antibodies exert synergistic neuroprotective activities in Drosophila models of Alzheimer’s disease. Human Molecular Genetics 24:6093-6105.

Casas-Tinto S, Zhang Y, Sanchez-Garcia J, Gomez-Velazquez M, Rincon-Limas DE*, and Fernandez-Funez P (2011). The ER stress factor XBP1s prevents amyloid beta neurotoxicity. Human Molecular Genetics 10.1093/hmg/ddr100. * Co-corresponding author.

Fernandez-Funez P, Zhang Y, Casas-Tinto S, Xiao X, Zou WQ, and Rincon-Limas DE (2010). Sequence-dependent prion protein misfolding and neurotoxicity. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 285:36897-36908.

Fernandez-Funez P, Casas-Tinto S, Gomez-Velazquez M, Cepeda-Nieto AC, Castilla J, Soto C, and Rincon-Limas DE (2009). In vivo generation of neurotoxic prion protein: Role for Hsp70 in accumulation of misfolded isoforms. PLoS Genetics 5:1-14, Epub1000507.


image of fly larval CNSFernandez-Funez P, Sanchez-Garcia J, Rincon-Limas DE (2017). Drosophila models of prionopathies: insight into prion protein function, transmission, and neurotoxicity. Current Opinion in Genetics & Development 44:141-148.

Fernandez-Funez P, de Mena L, and Rincon-Limas DE (2015). Modeling the complex pathology of Alzheimer’s disease in Drosophila. Experimental Neurology 274:58-71

Rincon-Limas DE, Jensen K, and Fernandez-Funez P (2011). Drosophila models of proteinopathies: the little fly that could. Current Pharmaceutical Design 18:1108-1122.

Fernandez-Funez P, Zhang Y, Sanchez-Garcia J, Jensen K, Zou WQ, and Rincon-Limas DE (2011). Pulling rabbits to reveal the secrets of the prion protein. Communicative & Integrative Biology, 4:262-266.

Rincon-Limas DE, Casas-Tinto S, and Fernandez-Funez P (2010). Exploring prion protein biology in flies: genetics and beyond. Prion 4:1-8.

Book Chapters

De Mena L, Fernandez-Funez P, and Rincon-Limas DE (2015). Protein quality control in brain aging: lessons from protein misfolding disorders in Drosophila. In Life Extension: Lessons from Drosophila. Springer.  Switzerland.

Fernandez-Funez P, Sanchez-Garcia, and Rincon-Limas DE (2013) Unraveling the basis of neurodegeneration using the Drosophila eye. In Molecular Genetics of Axial Patterning, Growth and Disease in the Drosophila Eye, eds Singh A and Kango-Singh M, Springer, New York.

Sanchez-Garcia J, Casas-Tinto S, Rincon-Limas DE, and Fernandez-Funez P (2013). Protein misfolding in Drosophila models of prionopathies. In: Basic Methods in Protein Purification and Analysis, iConcept Press, Ltd. ISBN: 978-14775550-5-7.

Fernandez-Funez P, Malaga-Trillo E, and Rincon-Limas DE (2012). Alternative models of prion diseases. In Prions and Diseases: Volume 2, Pathogenesis and Neuropathology, eds Zou WQ and Gambetti P, Springer, New York.

Publications Extracted from Medline