Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences, Osaka University


KOKORO-Biology Group

  Name Email TEL
Professor YAGI, Takeshi, Ph.D. +81-6-6879-7991
Associate Prof. KITSUKAWA, Takashi , Ph.D. +81-6-6879-7991
Assistant Prof. HIRABAYASHI, Takahiro, Ph.D. +81-6-6879-7991
FAX +81-6-6877-1922
Postal Mail Address Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences, Osaka University
1-3 Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan
Our investigations are aimed toward understanding the biological mechanisms underlying the generation of brain function. The generation of brain function occurs through innate programming initially as well as by acquisition via environmental stimuli during brain development. Studies in our laboratory focus on the identification of molecular groups that regulate brain development, brain evolution, and mental disorders. We hope to employ these molecules in order to understand the biological mechanisms involved in neural circuit generation and reorganization, as well as the relationship between neural circuits and brain function. In particular, brain function analysis at the individual level is performed in our laboratory using gene-converted mice and rats.

1. The molecular function of Fyn tyrosine kinase in the generation of brain function.

Using gene knockout mice, we have determined that Fyn tyrosine kinase regulates learning and emotional function in the brain. Fyn is associated with brain development and is localized at the synapse where it controls NMDA receptor function. Using Fyn, we are investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying mental disorders and function.

2. Molecular function of the gene-clustered cadherin family localized at the synapse.

06_img1.jpgSynapse is a significant apparatus that generates and rearranges neural networks. Using Fyn tyrosine kinase, we have isolated a cadherin-related neuronal receptor family which produces diversified molecules at the synapse. The genomic structure of CNR family genes is similar to those of the immunoglobulin and T cell receptor family genes. We are investigating the molecular function of the gene-clustered cadherin family including the CNR family in the synapse.

3. Gene rearrangement at the somatic level in the nervous system.

06_img2.jpgBoth the nervous and immune systems are characterized by diversified cell types, high organized networks, and learning and memory function. In the immune system, DNA rearrangement of immunoglobulin genes generates memory function. Recent reports on the discovery of CNR family genes, somatic mutation of CNR family transcripts, and the requirement of DNA repair molecules for brain development suggest that genomic rearrangement occurs in the nervous system. We are undertaking a comprehensive investigation of gene rearrangement in the nervous system.

4. Molecular mechanism of brain function development.

The plasticity of brain function and neural networks facilitates the influence of environmental stimuli on neural activity. The generation of neural networks is dependent upon a critical period of activity. We are investigating the molecular basis regulating such critical periods during brain development.

5. Genome structure and function and brain evolution.

Brain function is diversified among animal species, suggesting that the genetic information regulating brain function is also diversified among animal species. We are investigating the relationship between genomic structure regulating brain function and brain evolution. Through the production of gene-converted mice, we are exploring the molecular mechanisms controlling the generation of brain structure and function.