Pirjo Apaja

Associate Professor

  • 572 Citations
  • 13 h-Index
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Public Profile

Pirjo has an international track record and a long term interest in protein networks regulating membrane trafficking disorders and proteostasis.

After completing a Ph.D. in processing and trafficking of G protein-coupled receptors in Finland, she continued her research into conformational diseases and protein trafficking disorders at the Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute, Toronto. As a senior scientist at McGill University, Montreal, Canada she further specialized in the regulation of the endo-lysosomal pathway, ubiquitin signalling and their role in the protein trafficking disorders leading to cancers, cystic fibrosis, astrocyte dysregulation and heart defects. Pirjo is currently EMBL Australia Group Leader in Organelle Biology and Disease at the South Australian Health and Medical Research (SAHMRI), Adelaide and Associate Professor in Molecular and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Adelaide.

Pirjo’s Organelle Biology and Disease Group is an experimental research group and is working towards understanding how protein networks and post-translation modifications especially ubiquitination and conditional stress regulate intracellular pathways such as endolysosomal-autophagy pathway, and how dysfunction in these pathways can lead to disorders. Her group employ advanced light microscopy to measure protein trafficking, signalling and organelle pH regulation, proteomics, network analyses and other biochemical and cell biological methods. Her group is investigating protein networks involved in cancers, Parkinson’s and behavioural diseases and in astrocyte stress reponses. The aim of her research programme is to find targets at the intracellular level.


  • RZ Other systems of medicine
  • Parkinson's
  • Cancers
  • membranes
  • adaptor proteins
  • ubiquitin signalling
  • autophagy-lysosomes
  • induced stress
  • Neuronal disorders

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Research Output 2004 2018

  • 572 Citations
  • 13 h-Index
  • 17 Article
  • 2 Review article
6 Citations (Scopus)

Chaperone-Independent Peripheral Quality Control of CFTR by RFFL E3 Ligase

Okiyoneda, T., Veit, G., Sakai, R., Aki, M., Fujihara, T., Higashi, M., Susuki-Miyata, S., Miyata, M., Fukuda, N., Yoshida, A., Xu, H., Apaja, P. M. & Lukacs, G. L., 26 Mar 2018, In : Developmental Cell. 44, 6, p. 694-708.e7

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)
12 Citations (Scopus)

Chaperones rescue the energetic landscape of mutant CFTR at single molecule and in cell

Bagdany, M., Veit, G., Fukuda, R., Avramescu, R. G., Okiyoneda, T., Baaklini, I., Singh, J., Sovak, G., Xu, H., Apaja, P. M., Sattin, S., Beitel, L. K., Roldan, A., Colombo, G., Balch, W., Young, J. C. & Lukacs, G. L., 1 Dec 2017, In : Nature communications. 8, 1, 398.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Leukoencephalopathy-causing CLCN2 mutations are associated with impaired Cl channel function and trafficking

Gaitán-Peñas, H., Apaja, P., Arnedo, T., Castellanos, A., Elorza-Vidal, X., Soto, D., Gasull, X., Lukacs, G. L. & Estévez, R., 15 Nov 2017, In : Journal of Physiology. 595, 22, p. 6993-7008 16 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Ribosomal Stalk Protein Silencing Partially Corrects the ΔF508-CFTR Functional Expression Defect

Veit, G., Oliver, K., Apaja, P., Perdomo, D., Bidaud-Meynard, A., Lin, S. T., Guo, J., Icyuz, M., Sorscher, E. J., Hartman IV, J. L. & Lukacs, G. L., 11 May 2016, In : PLoS Biology. 14, 5, e1002462.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle