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Institute of Life Science

The Institute of Life Science established in 1989. The Institute was founded for the development of biomedical research in
molecular biology, which is one of the most exciting fields of science. The Institute is composed of three divisions: Cell Biology, Protein Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. The Institute has a four-year program for graduate students leading to the Doctor of Medical Science Degree.

The Division of Cell Biology investigates the molecular mechanism of cell division using the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. The spindle assembly checkpoint monitors the state of spindle-kinetochore interaction to prevent the premature onset of anaphase. Although checkpoint proteins, such as Mad2, are localized on kinetochores that do not interact properly with the spindle, it remains unknown how the checkpoint proteins recognize abnormalities in spindle-kinetochore interaction. We report that Mad2 localization on kinetochores in fission yeast is regulated by two partially overlapping but distinct pathways: the Dam1/DASH and the Bub1 pathways.

The main focus of research by the Division of Molecular Genetics is the search for novel biological peptides. We discovered ghrelin and neuromedins, and revealed their physiological functions. The discovery of ghrelin has elucidated the role of the stomach as an important organ in the regulation of growth hormone release and energy homeostasis. Ghrelin is orexigenic; it is secreted from the stomach and circulates in the blood stream under fasting conditions, indicating that it transmits a hunger signal from the periphery to the central nervous system.

The main interest of the Division of Protein Biochemistry is the molecular analyses of mitochondria. Mitochondrial morphology is dynamically controlled by a balance between fusion and fission. The physiological importance of mitochondrial fission in vertebrates is less clearly defined than that of mitochondrial fusion. We show that mice lacking the mitochondrial fission GTPase Drp1 have developmental abnormalities, particularly in the forebrain, and die after embryonic day 12.5.

分子生命科学研究所