LABORATORY OF DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY

Ciopsin1.jpg

Whole-mount in situ hybridization showing photoreceptor-specific expression of Ci-opsin1, a vertebrate-type opsin gene in a tadpole larva of the ascidian Ciona intestinalis

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updated on September 15, 2011


 

Research in this laboratory focuses on function and cellular and molecular architecture of the central nervous system (CNS). As a model system to study CNS, we are using primitive chordates, ascidians. The fertilized egg of the ascidian Ciona intestinalis develops into a tadpole larva consisting of about 2,600 cells within 18 hours. The tadpole larva of ascidians shares a basic body plan with vertebrates. The CNS of the ascidian larva shows organization similar to that of vertebrates. Most anterior part of the CNS, the brain vesicle (sensory vesicle), contains two sensory organs, the ocellus (eye-spot) and the otolith (gravity sense organ). Posterior to the brain vesicle is the visceral ganglion containing motor neurons. The caudal nerve cord extends from the posterior end of the visceral ganglion to the tip of the tail. The CNS of the ascidian tadpole contains only about 370 cells; among them, less than 100 cells are neurons. Its similarity to the vertebrate CNS and simple organization make the ascidian larval CNS a unique model system to study function and development of the chordate CNS.



STAFF:

   Professor  KUSAKABE, Takehiro Ph.D.

   Visiting Researcher (JSPS Fellow)  MATASSI, Giorgio Ph.D.

   Post-doctoral Fellow  SHIMAI, Kotaro Ph.D.



GRADUATE STUDENTS:

   Doctoral Students:
       NISHITSUJI, Koki

   Master's Students:
       ICHINOSE, Aoi
       DAIDOH, Yutaka



UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS:

       KAWASHIMA, Yusuke
       HAMANISHI, Sakurako
       HAYASHIBARA, Kaori
       MAEDA, Shoma
       WAKI, Kana
       TAKIGAWA, Toru



CURRENT RESEARCH TOPICS:

   - Development and function of the nervous system of ascidians
   - Evolution of chordate sensory organs
   - Non-reproductive function of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) in chordates
   - Role of small noncoding RNAs in the nervous system
   - Genomic regulatory mechanisms underlying cell-type specific gene expression



RECENT PUBLICATIONS: