Flora Tassone, Ph.D.

Professor In-Residence
MIND Institute - Bioscience Building
Sacramento Campus
Ph: 916-703-0463
FAX: 916-703-0390
Lab Website

Research Interests

Dr. Flora Tassone received her B.S. degree in biology from the University of Rome “La Sapienza” and her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the Catholic University of Rome, Italy, in 1992, for her studies on Down Syndrome. During the postdoctoral fellowship, first at the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute in Denver, Colorado, and then at University of Colorado Health Science Center she continued to work on the identification of genes involved in Down Syndrome and started to focus her attention on the molecular basis leading to Fragile X syndrome and autism spectrum disorders. In 2000 she moved to the University of California, Davis and focused her research on neurodevelopmental disorders including Fragile X syndrome and associated disorders, autism spectrum disorders and 22q deletion syndrome. She is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, and a MIND Institute investigator at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine.

The main focus of Dr. Tassone’s research is to understand the molecular mechanisms and the correlation with clinical involvements of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. Her expertise is in transcriptional and translational gene regulation, particularly of the fragile X (FMR1) gene.

Dr. Tassone has made a number of important observations related to the mechanism of gene expression of the FMR1 gene, especially regarding the effects of premutation alleles on individuals the scientific community thought to be clinically unaffected. Specifically, she investigated the clinical manifestations, FMR1 protein and FMR1 mRNA expression in individuals with fragile X syndrome and with FMR1 associated disorders and made the important discovery of gene dysregulation (increased activity) among premutation carriers. This discovery provided a molecular basis for the forms of clinical involvement among carriers, including fragile X- associated tremor ataxia syndrome (FXTAS). She continues to work on the molecular basis and abnormal molecular phenotype observed in individuals with FXTAS and continues to carry out a significant work on the molecular characterization of full mutation and premutation alleles and the association with a number of clinical features observed in carriers of these mutations.

In the past few years, she has been involved in the development of molecular biomarkers predictive of drug efficacy and monitoring disease severity.

Dr. Tassone is the director of the Molecular Core of a Fragile X project. Her CLIA certified Laboratory provides the molecular support to a number of projects at the MIND Institute, as well as at the University of California, Davis. Her research also focuses on a number of other neurodevelopmental disorders including Autism Spectrum Disorders and 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. Dr. Tassone has extensive experience in medical genetics and clinical analysis. She has been granted multiple fellowships and training opportunities, as well as research awards from NIH, the National Fragile X Foundation, DOD, HRSA and UC Davis Health for her outstanding contributions to the field. Dr. Tassone is well known in the international Fragile X community; her work has been presented internationally and she has published extensively on the molecular aspect of Fragile X and FXTAS autism and 22q deletion syndrome.

Grad Group Affiliations

Tassone F, Protic D, Allen EG, Archibald AD, Baud A, Brown TW, Budimirovic DB, Cohen J, Dufour B, Eiges R, Elvassore N, Gabis LV, Grudzien SJ, Hall DA, Hessl D, Hogan A, Hunter JE, Jin P, Jiraanont P, Klusek J, Kooy RF, Kraan CM, Laterza C, Lee A, Lipworth K, Losh M, Loesch D, Lozano R, Mailick MR, Manolopoulos A, Martinez-Cerdeno V, McLennan Y, Miller RM, Montanaro FAM, Mosconi MW, Potter SN, Raspa M, Rivera SM, Shelly K, Todd PK, Tutak K, Wang JY, Wheeler A, Winarni TI, Zafarullah M, Hagerman RJ. ""Insight and Recommendations for Fragile X-Premutation-Associated Conditions from the Fifth International Conference on FMR1 Premutation". Cells. 2023 Sep 21;12(18):2330. doi: 10.3390/cells12182330. PMID: 37759552 Free PMC article. Review.

Aishworiya R, Tak YE, Ponzini MD, Biag HMB, Salcedo-Arellano MJ, Kim K, Tassone F, Schneider A, Thurman AJ, Abbeduto L, Hessl D, Randol JL, Bolduc FV, Lippe S, Hagerman P, Hagerman R. "Adaptive, behavioral, and cognitive outcomes in individuals with fragile X syndrome with varying autism severity". Int J Dev Neurosci. 2023 Sep 19. doi: 10.1002/jdn.10299. Online ahead of print. PMID: 37724826

Hessl D, Rojas KM, Ferrer E, Espinal G, Famula J, Schneider A, Hagerman R, Tassone F, Rivera SM. "A Longitudinal Study of Executive Function in Daily Life in Male Fragile X Premutation Carriers and Association with FXTAS Conversion". medRxiv. 2023 Sep 2:2023.08.31.23294855. doi: 10.1101/2023.08.31.23294855. Preprint. PMID: 37693384 Free PMC article.

Zafarullah M, Li J, Salemi MR, Phinney BS, Durbin-Johnson BP, Hagerman R, Hessl D, Rivera SM, Tassone F. "Blood Proteome Profiling Reveals Biomarkers and Pathway Alterations in Fragile X PM at Risk for Developing FXTAS". Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Aug 30;24(17):13477. doi: 10.3390/ijms241713477.

Salcedo-Arellano MJ, Johnson MD, McLennan YA, Hwang YH, Juarez P, McBride EL, Pantoja AP, Durbin-Johnson B, Tassone F, Hagerman RJ, Martínez-Cerdeño V. "Brain Metabolomics in Fragile X-Associated Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome (FXTAS)". Cells. 2023 Aug 23;12(17):2132. doi: 10.3390/cells12172132. PMID: 37681866 Free PMC article.

Berry-Kravis E, Abbeduto L, Hagerman R, Coffey CS, Cudkowicz M, Erickson CA, McDuffie A, Hessl D, Ethridge LE, Tassone F, Kaufmann WE, Friedmann K, Bullard L, Hoffmann A, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Staley K, Klements D, Moshinsky M, Harkey B, Long JD, Fedler J, Klingner E, Ecklund DJ, Costigan M, Huff T, Pearson B. "Effects of AFQ056 on language learning in fragile X syndrome". J Clin Invest. 2023 Aug 31:e171723. doi: 10.1172/JCI171723. Online ahead of print. PMID: 37651202 Free article.

Aishworiya R, Biag HMB, Salcedo-Arellano MJ, Musa Z, Schneider A, Clark C, Santos E, Tassone F, Hagerman R. "Fragile X Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Occurrence of Dual Diagnosis in a Set of Triplets". J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2023 Sep 1;44(7):e470-e475. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000001204. Epub 2023 Aug 8. PMID: 37556593

Aishworiya R, Chi MH, Zafarullah M, Mendoza G, Ponzini MD, Kim K, Biag HMB, Thurman AJ, Abbeduto L, Hessl D, Randol JL, Bolduc FV, Jacquemont S, Lippé S, Hagerman P, Hagerman R, Schneider A, Tassone F. "Intercorrelation of Molecular Biomarkers and Clinical Phenotype Measures in Fragile X Syndrome". Cells. 2023 Jul 24;12(14):1920. doi: 10.3390/cells12141920.

Protic D, Polli R, Hwang YH, Mendoza G, Hagerman R, Durbin-Johnson B, Hayward BE, Usdin K, Murgia A, Tassone F. "Activation Ratio Correlates with IQ in Female Carriers of the FMR1 Premutation". Cells. 2023 Jun 24;12(13):1711. doi: 10.3390/cells12131711. PMID: 37443745 Free PMC article.

Aishworiya R, Hwang YH, Santos E, Hayward B, Usdin K, Durbin-Johnson B, Hagerman R, Tassone F. "Clinical implications of somatic allele expansion in female FMR1 premutation carriers". Sci Rep. 2023 Apr 29;13(1):7050. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-33528-x. PMID: 37120588

Palumbo JM, Thomas BF, Budimirovic D, Siegel S, Tassone F, Hagerman R, Faulk C, O'Quinn S, Sebree T. J. "Role of the endocannabinoid system in fragile X syndrome: potential mechanisms for benefit from cannabidiol treatment". Neurodev Disord. 2023 Jan 9;15(1):1. doi: 10.1186/s11689-023-09475-z. PMID: 36624400 Review.

Zafarullah M, Li J, Tseng E, Tassone F. "Structure and Alternative Splicing of the Antisense FMR1 (ASFMR1) Gene". Mol Neurobiol. 2023 Jan 4. doi: 10.1007/s12035-022-03176-9. Online ahead of print. PMID: 36598648.

Aishworiya R, Protic D, Tang SJ, Schneider A, Tassone F, Hagerman R. "Fragile X-Associated Neuropsychiatric Disorders (FXAND) in Young Fragile X Premutation Carriers". Genes (Basel). 2022 Dec 17;13(12):2399. doi: 10.3390/genes13122399. PMID: 36553666 Free PMC article.

Berry-Kravis E, Hagerman R, Budimirovic D, Erickson C, Heussler H, Tartaglia N, Cohen J, Tassone F, Dobbins T, Merikle E, Sebree T, Tich N, Palumbo JM, O'Quinn S. "A randomized, controlled trial of ZYN002 cannabidiol transdermal gel in children and adolescents with fragile X syndrome (CONNECT-FX)". J Neurodev Disord. 2022 Nov 25;14(1):56. doi: 10.1186/s11689-022-09466-6. PMID: 36434514 Free PMC article. Clinical Trial.

Hocking DR, Loesch DZ, Stimpson P, Tassone F, Atkinson A, Storey E. "Relationships of Motor Changes with Cognitive and Neuropsychiatric Features in FMR1 Male Carriers Affected with Fragile X-Associated Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome". Brain Sci. 2022 Nov 15;12(11):1549. doi: 10.3390/brainsci12111549. PMID: 36421873

Jasoliya M, Gu J, AlOlaby RR, Durbin-Johnson B, Chedin F, Tassone F. "Profiling Genome-Wide DNA Methylation in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and in Children with Fragile X Syndrome". Genes (Basel). 2022 Oct 4;13(10):1795. doi: 10.3390/genes13101795. PMID: 36292679

Varian BJ, Weber KT, Kim LJ, Chavarria T, Carrasco S, Muthupalani S, Zafarullah M, Poutahidis T, AlOlaby RR, Gardner BM, Solakyildirim K, Lebrilla C, Tassone F, Eric WJ, Alm WF, Erdman SE*. "Maternal microbiota modulate a Fragile X-like syndrome in offspring mice". Genes (Basel). 2022 Jul 22.

AlOlabi RR, Zafarullah M, Barboza M, Peng G, Varian BJ, Erdman SE, Lebrilla C, Tassone F. "Differential Methylation Profile in Fragile X Syndrome-Prone Offspring Mice after in Utero Exposure to Lactobacillus Reuteri". Genes (Basel). 2022 Jul 22;13(8):1300. doi: 10.3390/genes13081300.

Tassanakijpanich N, Wright R, Tassone F, Shankar SP, Hagerman R. "Fragile X syndrome in a girl with variant Turner syndrome and an isodicentric X chromosome". BMJ Case Rep. 2022 Jul 26;15(7):e247901. doi: 10.1136/bcr-2021-247901. PMID: 35882436.

Hwang YH, Hayward BE, Zafarullah M, Kumar J, Durbin Johnson B, Holmans P, Usdin K, Tassone F. "Both cis and trans-acting genetic factors drive somatic instability in female carriers of the FMR1 premutation". Sci Rep. 2022 Jun 21;12(1):10419. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-14183-0. PMID: 35729184

Jiraanont P, Manor E, Tabatadze N, Zafarullah M, Mendoza G, Melikishvili G, Tassone F. "De Novo Large Deletion Leading to Fragile X Syndrome". Front Genet. 2022 May 11;13:884424. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2022.884424. PMID: 35646065; PMCID: PMC9130735.

McLennan YA, Mosconi MW, McKenzie FJ, Famula J, Krawchuk B, Kim K, Clark CJ, Hessl D, Rivera SM, Simon TJ, Tassone F, Hagerman RJ. "Prosaccade and Antisaccade Behavior in Fragile X-Associated Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome Progression". Mov Disord Clin Pract. 2022 Apr 28;9(4):473-478. doi: 10.1002/mdc3.13449. PMID: 35586536; PMCID: PMC9092736.

Famula, J., Ferrer, E., Hagerman, R. J., Tassone, F., Schneider, A., Rivera, S. M., and Hessl, D. (2022). "Neuropsychological changes in FMR1 premutation carriers and onset of fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome". Journal of neurodevelopmental disorders, 14(1), 23.

Johnson, D., Santos, E., Kim, K., Ponzini, M. D., McLennan, Y. A., Schneider, A., Tassone, F., and Hagerman, R. J. (2022). "Increased Pain Symptomatology Among Females vs. Males With Fragile X-Associated Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome". Frontiers in psychiatry, 12, 762915.

Wang JY, Grigsby J, Placido D, Wei H, Tassone F, Kim K, Hessl D, Rivera SM, Hagerman RJ. Front Neurol. "Clinical and Molecular Correlates of Abnormal Changes in the Cerebellum and Globus Pallidus in Fragile X Premutation". 2022 Feb 8;13:797649. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2022.797649. eCollection 2022. PMID: 35211082

Hocking DR, Loesch DZ, Stimpson P, Tassone F, Atkinson A, Storey E. "Delineating the Relationships Between Motor, Cognitive-Executive and Psychiatric Symptoms in Female FMR1 Premutation Carriers". Front Psychiatry. 2021 Dec 3;12:742929. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.742929. eCollection 2021. PMID: 34925088

  • (1987) Institute of Human Genetics Research Fellowship
  • (1988) Italian Association of Cytogenetic Medicine, CEPIM Award
  • (1989) Italian Association of Cytogenetic Medicine, CEPIM Award
  • (1988-1992) Doctoral Traineeship, Institute of Forensic Medicine
  • (1992-1993) Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Institute of Medical Genetics, ECCChr21
  • (1997) Young Investigator Award for Fragile X Syndrome, funded by NIH
  • (1999) Isabelle Oberlé Award, Prize for the best Fragile X presentation
  • (1999-2000) Fragile X Grant, funded by Fragile X Foundation
  • (2000-2001) Fragile X Grant, funded by Fragile X Foundation
  • (2002-2004) UC Davis Health Systems Award
  • (2005-2006) National Fragile X Foundation
  • (2005-2006) M.I.N.D. Institute Gift Funds
  • (2005-2008) M.I.N.D. Institute Research Grant
  • (2008-2009) William Rosen Research Award
  • (2009-2010) Dean’s Team Award for Excellence
  • (2010) M.I.N.D. Institute Research Award