Gifu, Japan

Molecular Biology

Research Interests

Over many years we have carried out researches about neurotrophic factors, biologically active proteins that act on promoting neuronal differentiation and maintaining neuronal functions including synaptic plasticity in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology. While focusing on physiological roles of the neurotrophic factors, events such as neuronal differentiation, migration and establishment of neuronal circuits occur during processes during brain development and aging are investigated on a molecular, cellular and/or organ levels. Based on results of such basic findings, investigations aimed to elucidate etiology of and develop therapeutic drugs for neurological or psychiatric disorders are performed. For instance, the low-molecular-weight compounds that mimic neurotrophic factor activities have been invented and tested their efficacy for the disease model animals of depression, spinal cord injury and neurodevelopmental disorders (Fig. 1). Our research includes objects to clarify biological activities of the bee products, royal jelly and propolis and their components, and apply them for human health promotion and clinical usage. In addition, we are working on a clinical project aimed to treat human spinal cord injury by transplantation of the human dental pulp cells (Fig. 2). As treatment of the spinal cord injury has not yet been established, this research project is greatly expected.

Research Objectives
  1. Investigation for physiological roles of neurotrophic factors during formation and functional development of the cerebral cortex
  2. Investigation of the functional development of the brain related to cognition, learning and memory, aiming to understand pathology of neurodevelopmental disorder
  3. Investigations aimed to improve locomotor function after spinal cord injury
  4. Development of novel drugs to mimic neurotrophic factor-like activities and improve symptoms of psychiatric or neurodegenerative disorders
Research Results
  1. Shibata S., Iinuma M., Soumiya H., Fukumitsu H., Furukawa Y., Furukawa S., A novel 2-decenoic acid thioester ameliorates corticosterone-induced depression- and anxiety-like behaviors and normalizes reduced hippocampal signal transduction in treated mice, Pharmacol. Res. Perspect., 2015 Mar;3(2):e00132.
  2. Kasai M., Jikoh T., Fukumitsu H., Furukawa S., FGF-2-responsive and spinal cord-resident cells improve locomotor function after spinal cord injury, J. Neurotrauma, 31, 1584-1598 (2014).
  3. Ohtsuka M, Soumiya H, Hanai M, Furukawa S, Fukumitsu H. Neurotrophin-3 influences the number and the laminar fate of cortical progenitors in the developing cerebral cortex of mice through the MEK/ERK1/2 signaling pathway, Biomed. Res., 34, 231-239 (2013).
  4. Fukumitsu H., Soumiya H., Furukawa S., Knockdown of pre-mRNA cleavage factor Im 25kDa promotes neurite outgrowth, Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun., 425, 848-853 (2012).
  5. Soumiya H., Fukumitsu H., Furukawa S., Prenatal immune challenge compromises the normal course of neurogenesis during development of the mouse cerebral cortex, J. Neurosci. Res., 89, 1575-1585 (2011).
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