Japan National Institute for Basic Biology

Okazaki, Japan

Japan National Institute for Basic Biology

Okazaki, Japan
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Yoshimura T.,Nagoya University | Yoshimura T.,Japan National Institute for Basic Biology
Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology | Year: 2013

Organisms living outside the tropics use changes in photoperiod to adapt to seasonal changes in the environment. Several models have contributed to an understanding of this mechanism at the molecular and endocrine levels. Subtropical birds are excellent models for the study of these mechanisms because of their rapid and dramatic response to changes in photoperiod. Studies of birds have demonstrated that light is perceived by a deep brain photoreceptor and long day-induced thyrotropin (TSH) from the pars tuberalis (PT) of the pituitary gland causes local thyroid hormone activation within the mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH). The locally generated bioactive thyroid hormone, T3, regulates seasonal gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) secretion, and hence gonadotropin secretion. In mammals, the eyes are the only photoreceptor involved in photoperiodic time perception and nocturnal melatonin secretion provides an endocrine signal of photoperiod to the PT to regulate TSH. Here, I review the current understanding of the hypothalamic mechanisms controlling seasonal reproduction in mammals and birds. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.


Tokutsu R.,Japan National Institute for Basic Biology | Minagawa J.,Japan National Institute for Basic Biology
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2013

Plants and green algae have a low pH-inducible mechanism in photosystem II (PSII) that dissipates excess light energy, measured as the nonphotochemical quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence (qE). Recently, nonphotochemical quenching 4 (npq4), a mutant strain of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii that is qE-deficient and lacks the light-harvesting complex stress-related protein 3 (LHCSR3), was reported [Peers G, et al. (2009) Nature 462(7272):518-521]. Here, applying a newly established procedure, we isolated the PSII super-complex and its associated light-harvesting proteins from both WT C. reinhardtii and the npq4 mutant grown in either low light (LL) or high light (HL). LHCSR3 was present in the PSII supercomplex from the HL-grown WT, but not in the supercomplex from the LL-grown WT or mutant. The purified PSII supercomplex containing LHCSR3 exhibited a normal fluorescence lifetime at a neutral pH (7.5) by single-photon counting analysis, but a significantly shorter lifetime at pH 5.5, which mimics the acidified lumen of the thylakoid membranes in HL-exposed chloroplasts. The switch from light-harvesting mode to energy-dissipating mode observed in the LHCSR3-containing PSII supercomplex was sensitive to dicyclohexylcarbodiimide, a protein-modifying agent specific to protonatable amino acid residues. We conclude that the PSII-LHCII-LHCSR3 supercomplex formed in the HL-grown C. reinhardtii cells is capable of energy dissipation on protonation of LHCSR3.


Guillette Jr. L.J.,Medical University of South Carolina | Iguchi T.,Japan National Institute for Basic Biology
Science | Year: 2012

Exposure to pesticides and other chemicals can have complex long-term health effects.


Matsubayashi Y.,Japan National Institute for Basic Biology
Annual Review of Plant Biology | Year: 2014

Cell-to-cell signaling is essential for many processes in plant growth and development, including coordination of cellular responses to developmental and environmental cues. Cumulative studies have demonstrated that peptide signaling plays a greater-than-anticipated role in such intercellular communication. Some peptides act as signals during plant growth and development, whereas others are involved in defense responses or symbiosis. Peptides secreted as signals often undergo posttranslational modification and proteolytic processing to generate smaller peptides composed of approximately 10 amino acid residues. Such posttranslationally modified small-peptide signals constitute one of the largest groups of secreted peptide signals in plants. The location of the modification group incorporated into the peptides by specific modification enzymes and the peptide chain length defined by the processing enzymes are critical for biological function and receptor interaction. This review covers 20 years of research into posttranslationally modified small-peptide signals in plants. Copyright © 2014 by Annual Reviews.


Kofuji R.,Kanazawa University | Hasebe M.,Japan National Institute for Basic Biology
Current Opinion in Plant Biology | Year: 2014

Stem cells self-renew and produce cells that differentiate to become the source of the plant body. The moss Physcomitrella patens forms eight types of stem cells during its life cycle and serves as a useful model in which to explore the evolution of such cells. The common ancestor of land plants is inferred to have been haplontic and to have formed stem cells only in the gametophyte generation. A single stem cell would have been maintained in the ancestral gametophyte meristem, as occurs in extant basal land plants. During land plant evolution, stem cells diverged in the gametophyte generation to form different types of body parts, including the protonema and rhizoid filaments, leafy-shoot and thalloid gametophores, and gametangia formed in moss. A simplex meristem with a single stem cell was acquired in the sporophyte generation early in land plant evolution. Subsequently, sporophyte stem cells became multiple in the meristem and were elaborated further in seed plant lineages, although the evolutionary origin of niche cells, which maintain stem cells is unknown. Comparisons of gene regulatory networks are expected to give insights into the general mechanisms of stem cell formation and maintenance in land plants and provide information about their evolution. P. patens develops at least seven types of simplex meristem in the gametophyte and at least one type in the sporophyte generation and is a good material for regulatory network comparisons. In this review, we summarize recently revealed molecular mechanisms of stem cell initiation and maintenance in the moss. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Minagawa J.,Japan National Institute for Basic Biology
Frontiers in Plant Science | Year: 2013

Plants and algae have acquired the ability to acclimate to ever-changing environments in order to survive. During photosynthesis, light energy is converted by several membrane protein supercomplexes into electrochemical energy, which is eventually used to assimilate CO2. The efficiency of photosynthesis is modulated by many environmental factors such as quality and quantity of light, temperature, drought, and CO2 concentration, among others. Accumulating evidence indicates that photosynthetic supercomplexes undergo supramolecular reorganization within a short time frame during acclimation to an environmental change. This reorganization includes state transitions that balance the excitation of photosystem I and II by shuttling peripheral antenna proteins between the two, thermal energy dissipation that occurs at energy-quenching sites within the light-harvesting antenna generated for negative feedback when excess light is absorbed, and cyclic electron flow that is facilitated between photosystem I and the cytochrome bf complex when cells demand more ATP and/or need to activate energy dissipation. This review will highlight the recent findings regarding these environmental acclimation events in model organisms with particular attention to the unicellular green alga C. reinhardtii and with reference to the vascular plant A. thaliana, which offers a glimpse into the dynamic behavior of photosynthetic machineries in nature. © 2013 Minagawa.


Minagawa J.,Japan National Institute for Basic Biology
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics | Year: 2011

In oxygen-evolving photosynthesis, the two photosystems-photosystem I and photosystem II-function in parallel, and their excitation levels must be balanced to maintain an optimal photosynthetic rate under natural light conditions. State transitions in photosynthetic organisms balance the absorbed light energy between the two photosystems in a short time by relocating light-harvesting complex II proteins. For over a decade, the understanding of the physiological consequences, the molecular mechanism, and its regulation has increased considerably. After providing an overview of the general understanding of state transitions, this review focuses on the recent advances of the molecular aspects of state transitions with a particular emphasis on the studies using the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Regulation of Electron Transport in Chloroplasts. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Shigenobu S.,Japan National Institute for Basic Biology
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society | Year: 2013

Aphids evolved novel cells, called bacteriocytes, that differentiate specifically to harbour the obligatory mutualistic endosymbiotic bacteria Buchnera aphidicola. The genome of the host aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum contains many orphan genes that display no similarity with genes found in other sequenced organisms, prompting us to hypothesize that some of these orphan genes are related to lineage-specific traits, such as symbiosis. We conducted deep sequencing of bacteriocytes mRNA followed by whole mount in situ hybridizations of over-represented transcripts encoding aphid-specific orphan proteins. We identified a novel class of genes that encode small proteins with signal peptides, which are often cysteine-rich, that are over-represented in bacteriocytes. These genes are first expressed at a developmental time point coincident with the incorporation of symbionts strictly in the cells that contribute to the bacteriocyte and this bacteriocyte-specific expression is maintained throughout the aphid's life. The expression pattern suggests that recently evolved secretion proteins act within bacteriocytes, perhaps to mediate the symbiosis with beneficial bacterial partners, which is reminiscent of the evolution of novel cysteine-rich secreted proteins of leguminous plants that regulate nitrogen-fixing endosymbionts.


Yoshida S.,Japan National Institute for Basic Biology
Reproduction | Year: 2012

Spermatogenesis in mice and other mammalians is supported by a robust stem cell system. Stem cells maintain themselves and continue to produce progeny that will differentiate into sperm over a long period. The pioneering studies conducted from the 1950s to the 1970s, which were based largely on extensive morphological analyses, have established the fundamentals of mammalian spermatogenesis and its stem cells. The prevailing so-called Asingle (As) model, which was originally established in 1971, proposes that singly isolated Asspermatogonia are in fact the stem cells. In 1994, the first functional stem cell assay was established based on the formation of repopulating colonies after transplantation in germ cell-depleted host testes, which substantially accelerated the understanding of spermatogenic stem cells. However, because testicular tissues are dissociated into single-cell suspension before transplantation, it was impossible to evaluate the As and other classical models solely by this technique. From 2007 onwards, functional assessment of stem cells without destroying the tissue architecture has become feasible by means of pulse-labeling and live-imaging strategies. Results obtained from these experiments have been challenging the classical thought of stem cells, in which stem cells are a limited number of specialized cells undergoing asymmetric division to produce one self-renewing and one differentiating daughter cells. In contrast, the emerging data suggest that an extended and heterogeneous population of cells exhibiting different degrees of self-renewing and differentiating probabilities forms a reversible, flexible, and stochastic stem cell system as a population. These features may lead to establishment of a more universal principle on stem cells that is shared by other systems. © 2012 Society for Reproduction and Fertility.


Chen T.H.H.,Oregon State University | Murata N.,Japan National Institute for Basic Biology
Plant, Cell and Environment | Year: 2011

Various compatible solutes enable plants to tolerate abiotic stress, and glycinebetaine (GB) is one of the most-studied among such solutes. Early research on GB focused on the maintenance of cellular osmotic potential in plant cells. Subsequent genetically engineered synthesis of GB-biosynthetic enzymes and studies of transgenic plants demonstrated that accumulation of GB increases tolerance of plants to various abiotic stresses at all stages of their life cycle. Such GB-accumulating plants exhibit various advantageous traits, such as enlarged fruits and flowers and/or increased seed number under non-stress conditions. However, levels of GB in transgenic GB-accumulating plants are relatively low being, generally, in the millimolar range. Nonetheless, these low levels of GB confer considerable tolerance to various stresses, without necessarily contributing significantly to cellular osmotic potential. Moreover, low levels of GB, applied exogenously or generated by transgenes for GB biosynthesis, can induce the expression of certain stress-responsive genes, including those for enzymes that scavenge reactive oxygen species. Thus, transgenic approaches that increase tolerance to abiotic stress have enhanced our understanding of mechanisms that protect plants against such stress. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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