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Group Introduction

Cell Mechanics Research Group

Introduction to research

Molecular motors such as the actin-myosin, microtubule-kinesin and microtubule-dynein systems play critical roles in various cellular activities, and are associated with many genetic diseases. For example, nestin, one of the intermediate filaments, was reported to affect metastasis of prostate cancer, suggesting the regulation of cell motility and behavior by the dynamic changes of intermediate filaments. We will elucidate the unknown functions of those cytoskeletal proteins for the development of biomedical field.

Nanoneedle array technology (Chikashi Nakamura)

Nanoneedle of 200 nm in diameter and 20 μm in length can be inserted into cells with minimal damages. Nanoneedle array (NNA) containing several tens of thousands of needles are applied for novel cell separation technology by targeting intracellular markers, such as intermediate filaments.

Nanoneedle array technology

Electron microscopic studies of cytoskeletal proteins (Keiko Hirose)

To understand the molecular mechanism of motility inside living cells, we are studying the structures of cytoskeletal and motor proteins by electron microscopy including cryo-EM. Especially, we are developing the dynein-microtubule complex utilizing DNA-origami structures to visualize the structures of dynein producing force.

Electron microscopic studies of cytoskeletal proteins

Development of monitoring technologies of coastal and oceanic ecosystem (Tatsuro Akiba)

Technologies for automatic measurement of abundance of zooplankton and phytoplankton ,and a fine scale sampler have been developed for the study of vertical distribution of constituents in water column.

Development of monitoring technologies of coastal and oceanic ecosystem

Free Surface Cell Biology (Kouichi Tachibana)

We have found that loss of adhesion induces changes in cell shape via phosphorylation of ERM proteins and following actin reorganization. Meanwhile, dephosphorylation of phospho-ERM is essential for cell adhesion to substrate. We are studying cellular effects caused by non-adhesion from biological, biochemical and biophysical perspectives (“Free Surface Cell Biology”).

Development of monitoring technologies of coastal and oceanic ecosystem

Genome-wide screening and functional analysis of genes involved in cell migration (Akira Nagasaki)

Cell migration plays a major role in a variety of biological processes including cancer metastasis and detailed understanding of associated mechanisms should lead to advances in the medical sciences, for example, in drug discovery for cancer therapy. We identified 48 genes required for cell migration from Dictyostelium cells and Rat NBT-II cells and investigate their roles in cancer cells by live-cell imaging techniques.

Genome-wide screening and functional analysis of genes involved in cell migration

Single cell measurements and manipulations by using "microcups" (Hyonchol Kim)

We are trying to develop new applications of cup-shaped metal hemispheres, "microcups", for single cell measurements and manipulations. One development is molecular sensing in single cell level. In the technology, target cells were captured in concaves of microcups, and molecular expressions on the cells can be detected with probe molecules immobilized on inner surfaces of the cups. Another is single cell manipulation and force measurement by using atomic force microscopy (AFM). In the technology, a microcup was attached on an apex of AFM cantilever, a target cell was picked up by using the "cup-chip", and intercellular adhesion strengths can be quantitatively measured.

Single cell measurements and manipulations by using "microcups"

List of Publications

20172016201520142013201220112010

Staff:

  • Chikashi Nakamura (Research Group Leader)

  • Keiko Hirose

  • Tatsuro Akiba 

  •  Akira Nagasaki

  • Kouichi Tachibana

  • Hyonchol Kim

  • Ayana Yamagishi