Livio Pellizzoni, PhD

  • Associate Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology (in Neurology)
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Livio Pellizzoni is an Associate Professor holding a joint appointment in the Departments of Pathology & Cell Biology and Neurology at the Columbia University Medical Center. He received his B.S. degree from the University of Rome La Sapienza and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Rome Tor Vergata. He trained at the University of Pennsylvania where he was an HHMI fellow. In 2002, he started his independent career at the Institute of Cell Biology of Rome and was the recipient of the EMBO Young Investigator award and the Telethon Career Award. He has been on the faculty of Columbia University since 2007. 


Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology (in Neurology)


  • Italian


  • Male

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • BS, MS, 1992 Biology, Universita degli Studi di Roma
  • PhD, 1995 Biotechnology, Universita degli Studi di Roma

Committees, Societies, Councils

RNA Society

Society for Neuroscience (SFN)

American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB)

American Society for Microbiology (ASM)

Honors & Awards

2002 EMBO Young Investigator Award

2002 Telethon Career Award


The development and function of neural circuits requires the precise spatial and temporal control of gene expression. Moreover, an increasing number of genetic mutations in ubiquitously expressed proteins that function in RNA regulation are linked to disorders of the nervous system. Research in our laboratory investigates the mechanisms by which RNA binding proteins (RBPs) and molecular chaperones that mediate their assembly into RNA-protein complexes (RNPs) regulate gene expression in neurons. The laboratory also focuses on the question of how general perturbations of RNA metabolism cause synaptic dysfunction and neuronal death in neurodegenerative diseases, including spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In these studies, we employ cellular and animal models as well as a wide range of genomic, biochemical, molecular and imaging approaches. High-throughput screens are also used to discover chemical and genetic modifiers of disease pathways. On one hand, these efforts are designed to advance our knowledge of how RNA regulation contributes to neural circuit function. On the other, they aim to deconstruct disease mechanisms and identify potential therapeutic targets.

Current research interests focus on 1) the role of chaperone-mediated RNP assembly in development, disease, and aging; 2) the identification and therapeutic targeting of upstream triggers and downstream effectors of neurodegeneration in SMA and ALS; 3) the characterization of disease-linked mutations in RBPs that disrupt neurodevelopment; and 4) the requirement of ER scramblases for the function of sensory-motor circuits.

Research Interests

  • Cellular/Molecular/Developmental Neuroscience
  • Neurodegeneration and repair
  • RNA-binding proteins and non-coding RNA regulatory networks in neurological disorders
  • Synapses and Circuits

Selected Publications

  • Nuzzo, T., Russo, R., Errico, F., D’Amico, A., Tewelde, A.G., Valletta, M., Hassan, A., Tosi, M., Panicucci, C., Bruno, C., Bertini, E., Chambery, A., Pellizzoni, L. & Usiello, A. (2023). Nusinersen mitigates neuroinflammation in severe Spinal Muscular Atrophy patients. Communications Medicine, 3, 28.
  • Tisdale, S., Van Alstyne, M., Simon, C.M., Mentis, G.Z. & Pellizzoni, L. (2022). SMN controls neuromuscular junction integrity through U7 snRNP. Cell Reports, 40, 111393.
  • Van Alstyne, M., Tattoli, I., Delestree, N., Recinos, Y., Workman, E., Shihabuddin, L.S., Zhang, C., Mentis, G.Z. & Pellizzoni, L. (2021). Gain of toxic function by long-term AAV9-mediated SMN overexpression in the sensorimotor circuit. Nature Neuroscience, 24, 930-940.
  • Osman, E.Y., Van Alstyne, M., Yen, P.F., Lotti, F., Feng, Z., Ling, K.K.Y., Ko, C.P., Pellizzoni, L. & Lorson, C.L. (2020). Minor snRNA gene delivery improves the loss of proprioceptive synapses on SMA motor neurons. JCI Insight, 5, e130574.
  • Simon, C.M., Van Alstyne, M., Lotti, F., Bianchetti, E., Tisdale, S., Watterson, D.M., Mentis, G.Z., & Pellizzoni, L. (2019). Stasimon contributes to the loss of sensory synapses and motor neuron death in a mouse model of spinal muscular atrophy. Cell Reports, 29, 3885-3901.
  • Van Alstyne, M., Simon, C.M., Sardi, P.S, Shihabuddin, L., Mentis, G.Z., & Pellizzoni, L. (2018). Dysregulation of Mdm2 and Mdm4 alternative splicing underlies motor neuron death in spinal muscular atrophy. Genes & Development, 32, 1045-1059.
  • Van Alstyne, M., Lotti, F., Dal Mas, A., Area-Gomez, E., & Pellizzoni L. (2018). Stasimon/Tmem41b localizes to mitochondria-associated ER membranes and is essential for mouse embryonic development. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 506, 463-470.
  • Simon, C.M., Dai, Y., Van Alstyne, M., Koutsioumpa, C., Pagiazitis, J.G., Chalif, J.I., Wang, X., Rabinowitz, J.E., Henderson, C.E., Pellizzoni, L. & Mentis, G.Z. (2017). Converging mechanisms of p53 activation drive motor neuron degeneration in spinal muscular atrophy. Cell Reports, 21, 3767-3780. 
  • Simon, C.M., Janas, A.M., Lotti, F., Tapia, J.C., Pellizzoni, L. & G.Z. Mentis. (2016). A stem cell model of the motor circuit uncouples motor neuron death from hyperexcitability induced by SMN deficiency. Cell Reports, 16, 1416-1430.
  • Tisdale, S. & Pellizzoni, L. (2015). Disease mechanisms and therapeutic approaches in spinal muscular atrophy. Journal of Neuroscience, 35, 8691– 8700.
  • Li, D.K., Tisdale, S., Lotti, F. & Pellizzoni, L. (2014). SMN control of RNP assembly: from post-transcriptional gene regulation to motor neuron disease. Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology, 32, 22-29.
  • Tisdale, S., Lotti, F., Saieva, L., Van Meerbeke, J.P., Crawford T.O., Sumner, C.J., Mentis, G.Z. & Pellizzoni, L. (2013). SMN is essential for the biogenesis of U7 small nuclear ribonucleoprotein and 3’-end formation of histone mRNAs. Cell Reports, 5, 1187-1195.
  • Lotti, F., Imlach, W.L., Saieva, L., Beck, E.S., Hao, L.T., Li, D.K., Jiao, W., Mentis, G.Z.M., Beattie, C.E., McCabe, B.D. & Pellizzoni, L. (2012). A SMN-dependent U12 splicing event essential for motor circuit function. Cell, 151, 440-454.
  • Imlach, W.L., Beck, E.S., Choi, B.J., Lotti, F., Pellizzoni, L. & McCabe, B.D. (2012). SMN is required for sensory-motor circuit function in Drosophila. Cell, 151, 427-439.
  • Ruggiu, M., McGovern, V.L., Lotti, F., Saieva, L., Li, D.K., Kariya, S., Monani, U.R., Burghes, A.H.M. & Pellizzoni, L. (2012). A role for SMN exon 7 splicing in the selective vulnerability of motor neurons in spinal muscular atrophy. Molecular and Cellular Biology, 32, 126-138.
  • Pellizzoni, L. (2007). Chaperoning ribonucleoprotein biogenesis in health and disease. EMBO Reports, 8, 340-345.
  • Pellizzoni, L., Yong, J. & Dreyfuss, G. (2002). Essential role for the SMN complex in the specificity of snRNP assembly. Science, 298, 1775-1779.