概要

Name: Atsushi ASANO
Affiliation: Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences
Specialty: Biosphere Resource Science and Technology
Field of Research: Reproductive Biology (Animal Science)
Position: Assistant Professor
Degree: Ph.D.
Degree earning University :

Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology, Okayama University (March 2004)

Starting Date: March 1st, 2012
Mentor: Professor Atsushi Tajima
Laboratory:

ihttp://www.nourin.tsukuba.ac.jp/~aasano/

Cellular and Molecular Basis for Fertilization and Development in Mammals

 “Reproduction” is a profound process that consists of sequential events occurring at different temporal and spatial scales. How are the complex mechanisms regulated? This question led us to investigate cellular and molecular basis for fertilization and development. The resultant data should be useful for promoting translation between research and developing practical applications that benefit both human and animals.

 

1) Functions of membrane rafts in fertilization

Membrane rafts are dynamic membrane regions enriched in sterols, ganglioside GM1 and functional membrane proteins.  They play an important role in several cellular functions. Recently, our experiments with live-cell imaging in mouse sperm demonstrated that membrane rafts are present in the acrosomal plasma membranes [APM (Fig.1)]. This finding, combined with the functional importance of the APM where membrane fusion occurs later (known as acrosome exocytosis), led us to investigate role of membrane rafts in fertilization and early embryonic development.

Fig1

 

2) Mechanisms for sperm functional maturation during epididymal passage

After leaving the testis, sperm undergo functional maturation in the epididymis by selectively acquiring lipids and proteins, which are important extra-cellular factors for fertilization. However, very little is known about the mechanisms involved in the selective acquirement of these molecules during the epididymal transit of sperm. This led us to investigate the mechanisms underlying epididymal maturation, using boar sperm.

 

3)  Development of stem cell-based technologies for preservation and production of animals

Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are undifferentiated cells, which are artificially induced by transducing the reprogramming factors. In experimental animals, it has been shown that iPS cells were able to differentiate into specific cells and generate organs or even animals. Additionally, recent studies reported successful generation of iPS cells from specific cells obtained from endangered species. Together, these reports led us to investigate molecular mechanisms involved in the reprogramming of somatic cells to iPS cells. The results will be useful for generating technologies to rescue animals which have become endangered or already are extinct.