Germ cells are the sole and fundamental cells to leave offspring. Although germ cells in an animal body would be strictly regulated to avoid aberrant proliferation, cell death, and differentiation due to its biological significance, the regulatory mechanisms of germ cells have been largely unknown. To address the issues, we study the developmental mechanisms of germ cells in vertebrate embryos, focusing on the cellular and molecular interactions between germ cells and environmental somatic cells, in the contexts of germ cell maintenance and migration. We progress these researches by maximizing the advantages of avian system including in vivo high quality imaging, cell/tissue transplantation, germ cell culture, and transgenic chickens and quails. In addition to basic developmental researches, we are also interested in various applications of avian reproductive engineering.
Division of Molecular Life Sciences
The eukaryotic cell is a core structural unit that constitutes the bodies of higher organisms, and operates various activities of life with highly sophisticated membrane structures. The Division of Molecular Life Sciences conducts research into the integrated biology of animals and plants from basic structures of genes to high-order functions of bodies by focusing on the following aspects; mechanisms of chromosomal DNA replication for maintaining genome structures, molecular dynamics of high-ordered structures from protein complexes to organelles managing cellular functions, for example, signaling mechanisms of cell-cell communication for cell proliferation, cell formations and metabolism regulation mechanistic features of functions in individual bodies including development and differentiation, and formation of neural networks and immune systems. We also provide basic lectures to students concerning other divisions aiming to understand molecular biology of life from molecular, cellular and individual aspects. The lectures include basic structures and functions of the cell, developmental mechanisms of individual bodies from fertilization to highly organized cell societies, and the coordination of nerve systems to manage high-ordered biological activities.
■Animal Developmental Biology and Reproductive Engineering
Professor Daisuke Saito
■Molecular and Developmental Cell Biology
Lecturer Nobushige Nakajyo
■Plant Molecular Biology
Professor Koh Iba
the Laboratory of Plant Molecular Biology, the functions of plant cells related to environmental adaptability are studied using genetic engineering approaches. Our efforts focus on the model plants Arabidopsis and rice. The objective is to characterize the key genes involved in the adaptation of plants to stress factors such as temperature, CO2, and pathogen invasion. By analyzing the functions of these genes in detail, we gain an understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which plants adapt to their environments.
Associate Professor Juntaro Negi
■Molecular Cell Biology
Professor Shigehiko Tamura
Peroxisomes are present in a wide variety of eukaryotic cells, from yeast to humans, and function in various metabolic pathways, including the β-oxidation of very long chain fatty acids and the synthesis of ether-lipids. The functional consequence of human peroxisomes is highlighted by fatal genetic peroxisome biogenesis disorders (PBD), including Zellweger syndrome, all of which are linked to a failure of peroxisome assembly. In our studies we aim to elucidate the molecular mechanism of peroxisome biogenesis and protein trafficking in eukaryotes
■Membrance Cell Biology
Professor Junichi Ikenouchi
Epithelial cells are constitutively polarized to play fundamental functions such as vectorial transport. There are two membrane domains of epithelial cells, the apical membrane and separated by cell adhesion apparatus. To understand the molecular mechanisms of epithelial polarity and cell adhesion, our lab has identified important proteins involved in these processes. In addition to the researches focused on proteins, we are now trying to clarify the roles of membrane lipids in epithelial cells. The aim of our study from the viewpoint of basic science is to clarify the roles of individual lipid species by using epithelial polarity and cell adhesion as experimental systems. The research purpose for clinical science is to find novel therapeutic targets in diseases correlated with epithelial-polarity disorders and epithelial-mesenchymal transition, such as cancer, polycystic kidney disease and pulmonary fibrosis.
Professor Takeshi Ishihara
Animals process various kinds of sensory information in their nervous systems to regulate their behavior. To elucidate those mechanisms at molecular and neural network levels, we study the behavioral regulation of C. elegans as a model system, by using molecular genetics, behavioral analyses, and imaging studies on the neural network. Among many kinds of information processing, we focus on the behavioral plasticity, sensory integration, olfaction, and behavioral regulation by internal environments. We also analyze the effects in C. elegans of medical drugs that target manic depression. These studies will provide fundamental insight into the function of central nervous systems in animals.
Associate Professor Makoto Koga
The most significant thing for organisms, and the primary function of their behavior, is to maintain their populations and produce offspring for the next generation. Efficient foraging, strategic utilization of food resources, and successful sexual reproduction are among the most important activities for organisms. The healthy functioning of the cerebral nervous system is necessary for all organisms to achieve these behaviors, from mammals with a complex nervous system to creatures with relatively simple nervous systems such as the a wooly aphid. Our research centers on molecular genetic analysis, using C. elegans as a model, to study the behavioral changes and control mechanisms relating to eating behavior.
Associate Professor Takayuki Teramoto
Professor Toshiki Tsurimoto
Precise DNA replication in eukaryotic cells is essential for the maintenance of genome integrity during cell proliferation. This step is also crucial for the coordination of various cellular signals with cell proliferation through regulation of DNA damage responses, reorganization of chromosomal structures and segregation of sister chromatids, and thus tightly involved in differentiation, cancer-development, and the aging of eukaryotic cells. Our major interest is in understanding the molecular dynamics of the replication fork complex in human cells, focusing on functions of its major components, clamp and loader complexes. We have taken molecular biological and biochemical approaches to study their molecular interaction networks and structure-function relevance.
Associate Professor Tatsuro Takahashi
Associate Professor Eiji Nitasaka
Lecturer Kensuke Kusumi
■Protein Science and Cellular Biochemistry
Professor Shun-ichiro Kawabata
Our laboratory specializes in protein science and cellular biochemistry, which include biochemical and biophysical characterization of native or recombinant proteins involved in innate immunity. We have been conducting studies on molecular mechanisms of invertebrate innate immunity using the horseshoe crab Tachypleus tridentatus and Drosophila melanogaster. Interactions between protein and other biomolecules including lipids and carbohydrates are measured by surface plasmon resonance and quartz crystal microbalance analyses. Physiological functions of the identified proteins are also characterized in vivo by RNAi in the Drosophila system. Three dimensional structures of proteins and peptides are determined in collaboration with other laboratories through X-ray crystal and NMR analysis.