Laboratories and faculty

Developmental Biomedical Science

Assoc Prof. Sasai
Associate Professor
SASAI Noriaki mailアイコン
Assistant Professor
SHINOZUKA Takuma mailアイコン
Labs HP

Outline of Research and Education

The central nervous system is a critical hub for controlling body conditions, and is comprised of a variety types of neurons. Its development undergoes a number of regulatory steps mainly at the embryonic stages. We intend to elucidate the molecular mechanisms leading to this complexity by employing chick and mouse embryos, and mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells as experimental systems.

We are also interested in the homeostasis of functional neurons. By using model mice which develop particular inherited retinal diseases, we envisage proposing novel therapeutics for these related dystrophies.

Overall, our research program aims to be influential in cell and developmental biology and will furthermore be both scientifically and technically cross-disciplinary spanning basic biology and biomedical sciences.

Major Research Topics

Signals that control cell differentiation and transitions of the properties of neural progenitor cells

During embryonic development, progenitor cells differentiate and mature. Many signaling molecules are involved in this process, and they play essential roles in cell maturation and proliferation. We aim to understand the functions of these signaling molecules, intracellular gene expression networks, and transitions in the chromatin state.

Control of the balance between cell proliferation and differentiation in tissue morphogenesis

The size of each tissue in the body and the number of cells it contains are strictly decided. This control is thought to be determined by the balance between cell proliferation efficiency and differentiation, and we will clarify the genetic programmes.

Homeostasis of the neural functions

Because the nervous system rarely recovers when it gets damaged, it is important to maintain the survival and function of the neural tissue. We focus on a hereditary eye disease, and try to capture the outset stages. We aim to uncover the mechanisms by which cells can endure external stimuli and continue to function.

Fig. 1 Neurons differentiated from ES cells.
Fig. 2 A chick embryo developing for 4 days.
Fig. 3 A single-cell expression analysis to elucidate the primary step of retinopathy.


  1. Shigesada et al., Cell Mol. Life Sci., 81, 51, 2024
  2. Sasai et al., Development Growth and Differentiation, 66, 89, 2024
  3. Ong et al., iScience, 26, 107887, 2023
  4. Yamamoto et al., Stem Cells, 41, 453, 2023
  5. Yamamoto#, Ong# et al., Development Growth and Differentiation, 64, 318, 2022
  6. Katsuyama et al., Developmental Dynamics, 251, 350-361, 2022
  7. Kobayashi et al., Disease Models and Mechanisms, 144, dmm048962, 2021
  8. Yatsuzuka et al., Development, 146, dev176784, 2019
  9. Kadoya and Sasai, Frontiers in Neuroscience, 13, 1022, 2019
  10. Hori et al., Sci. Rep. 9, 15911, 2019