[Optical Control] Year Started : 2017

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Teruhiro Okuyama

Novel light-inducible manipulation of impaired dendritic spines in autism spectrum disorder


For gregarious animals that live in social communities, it is crucial to remember and recognize different conspecific individuals (i.e. having social memory) in order to exhibit the appropriate social behaviors. However, patients of autism spectrum disorder are impaired in the neural processing of social information. Our research aims to develop novel light-inducible techniques to manipulate and analyze the neural processing in dendritic spines to improve therapy treatments of human autism.

Hideaki Kato

Structure-based molecular engineering of novel inhibitory channel-type optogenetics tools


Compared to excitatory optogenetics tools, the development of inhibitory tools is lagging behind. In this project, I aim to engineer novel inhibitory channel-type optogenetics tools through the structural and functional analysis of light-gated ion channels.

Fuun Kawano

Development of a versatile technology for manipulating biomolecules with light based on optogenetically activatable antibodies


This study aims to develop a highly versatile optogenetic tool for manipulating a variety of intra/extracellular biomolecules with light in a high spatiotemporally confined manner. In order to achieve this, I will engineer optogenetically activatable antibodies fused with photoreceptor proteins and their binding partners that enable us to change antigen-binding affinity using light. The engineered tool can be easily replaced with other antibodies that target other biomolecules. Thus, this technology will dramatically facilitate the implementation of optogenetic control of new target biomolecules by using existing antibodies.

Kunio Kondoh

Dissection of neural circuits underlying feeding behavior using new trans-synaptic viral tracers with optical controls.


Trans-synaptic viral tracers are powerful tools to analyze structures of neural circuits. In this study, I will generate new trans-synaptic viruses that can be used together with methods to control or analyze neural activities using light, which will enable us to analyze changes in activities of chains of connected neurons. With this method, I will study neural circuits underlying feeding behavior.

Takuya Sasaki

Modulation of brain activity states by optogenetic manipulation of peripheral organs


The brain and body have intricate connections through the nervous system but it remains unknown how brain activity states are controlled by peripheral organ activity. To address this issue, this research project utilizes experimental techniques to simultaneously monitor and manipulate electrical biosignals of both central and peripheral tissues. Especially, the project focuses on developing new optogenetic tools to express photosensitive proteins in the heart and peripheral nervous system and apply photostimulation to these peripheral organs in freely moving animals. This new technique advances the understanding of the neurophysiological correlate of mind-body associations in health and disease.

Tomomi Suzuki

Light Control of Biomembrane Functions


Flippase, transmembrane lipid transporter, regulates biomembrane functions such as membrane trafficking and cytoskeletal dynamics. Furthermore, lipids transported by flippase are involved in membrane association and activation of signaling factors related to cell proliferation. In this research, I aim to elucidate the mechanism for regulating flippase and to establish a system that controls biomembrane function using light. In addition, by introducing established light-control system into cultured cells, I verify the possibility of controlling cell morphology, movement and adhesion.

Hisao Tsukamoto

Optical regulation of biological functions using endogenous receptors.


Optogenetics utilizing heterologous expression of photo-receptive proteins such as channelrhodopsin has dramatically developed. In this research, I aim to develop and establish methods to regulate biological functions in a light-dependent manner using receptor proteins expressed endogenously in target animals. This research would make a wider variety of animal species and their activities applicable to optical control techniques.

Hideharu Mikami

Ultrahigh-speed 3D fluorescence microscopy for real-time tracking of biological activities


We develop ultrahigh-speed 3D fluorescence microscopes having a volume rate of 1,000 volumes/sec, which is more than an order of magnitude higher than that of current 3D microscopes. They help fundamental understandings of life at the levels of tissues or cells by recording biological activities such as neuronal ones in real time.

Kazunari Miyamichi

Comparative optogenetics: Evolution of neural circuit for social behaviors


Currently, most genetic techniques in neuroscience are only applicable to mice, as Cre recombinase-dependent strategy is commonly used to regulate specific types of target neurons. To overcome this limitation, I combine CRISPR-mediated in situ gene knock-in and viral toolbox to enable cell-type specific optogenetic recording and manipulations in non-model mammalian species without germline manipulation. I will then analyze function of evolutionally orthologous neural circuits across mammalian species underlying social behaviors.

Asako Yamayoshi

Novel photodynamic approaches to control epigenetic gene regulation


Epigenetic DNA modifications significantly affect the deactivation and activation processes of gene expression significantly. In particular, the C5-methylation of cytosine in the CpG islands is important for the epigenetic modification of genes, which plays a key role in regulating gene transcription. In this study, I will synthesis novel photoreactive oligonucleotides to delete the C5-methylation of cytosine for initiation of epigenetic modifications.

Tatsuyuki Yoshii

Manipulation of Endogenous Signalling Pathways Based on photoresponsive small molecules


Conditional perturbation of endogenous protein activities would provide knowledges for cellular signaling pathways. In this research project, I will develop various photo-responsive small molecules. Combining these chemical tools with genome editing, I will create the system which can control the localization of endogenous “tagged” proteins inside cells with high spatial and temporal resolution.

Fumiaki Yoshida

Optogenetic neuromoduration therapy for movement disorders


Optogenetics is a powerful tool that can not only manipulate the activity of neurons, but also has the potential to improve the functioning of an impaired brain network. In addition, this technique can be used in the future to cure disease, and I am actively working on transforming the potential of optogenetics into a realistic means of neuromodulation. In this project, I expect to find the best optogenetics method for use in the primate brain, that will also prove to be useful specifically in the human brain. Finally, I aim to develop this method for future human disease therapy.

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