NAIST Division of Biological Science

Laboratories and faculty

Cell Signaling

BS CB BN

Outline of Research and Education

Our research aims to elucidate intracellular signaling networks that sense and transmit diverse extracellular stimuli, with particular focus on the signaling pathways involved in cancerous cell proliferation and metabolic syndromes such as diabetes. To identify and analyze novel components of the signaling pathways, the studies utilize the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, which has been successfully used as a genetically amenable model system to investigate cellular regulatory mechanisms conserved from yeast to humans. Students in our laboratory are encouraged to design multifaceted approaches that logically combine research tools in molecular genetics, cell biology and biochemistry. Originally established in 1998 at University of California-Davis, our laboratory has been training researchers that serve the international scientific community.

Major Research Topics

TOR (Target Of Rapamycin) signaling pathway

TOR kinase forms two distinct protein complexes called TORC1 and TORC2, which mediate extracellular signals, such as nutrients and insulin/growth factors (Fig.1). Deregulation of the TOR pathways is implicated in cancers, neurological disorders, diabetes and aging; therefore, comprehensive understanding of the TOR pathways is crucial for the development of informed strategies to treat these diseases.

Stress-responsive MAP kinase cascade

Stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK) is a member of the MAP kinase family that plays pivotal roles in cellular stress responses, including those of cancer cells exposed to cytotoxic therapies. Our goal is to discover cellular “stress sensors” that transmit signals to induce activation of SAPK.

Fig. 1
Fig. 1 The TORC1 and TORC2 signaling pathways integrate multiple stimuli to control cell proliferation.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2 The structure of the TORC2 subunit Sin1, whose function has been elucidated through genetic analysis in fission yeast (background).

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