Frontier Research Institute for Interdisciplinary Sciences
Tohoku University


Yuiko Morita-Fujimura

Tenure in FRIS 2012.11-2016.12

Yuiko Morita-Fujimura

Assistant Professor / Research AdministratorLife and Environments

Mentor Information
Associate Professor
Shuntaro Ikawa (Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer)
Research Fields Cell biology, Molecular biology, Developmental biology
Research Subjects
  • Role of p51/p63 on the regulation of germ cell development
Academic Society Membership The Molecular Biology Society of Japan, Japan Society for Cell Biology, The Japanese Biochemical Society
Research Outline  

In mammals, differentiation of germ cells during embryonic development is crucial for their development and they show pronounced susceptibility to various stresses, such as radiation, compared to surrounding somatic tissues. Moreover, mutations in some genes, which are involved in the maintenance of genomic stability, are known to cause cell death, only in germ cells of the developing embryo, but not in somatic cells. This will eventually lead to infertility of the embryo when grown up. Therefore, it is likely that germ cells to have unique mechanisms of triggering cell death and maintaining their genomic integrity.

Among all of the cells constituting multicellular organisms, only germ cells can differentiate into gametes capable of acquiring totipotency by fertilization, and being inherited persistently to the following generations. Considering the nature of their intrinsic totipotency, the genomic integrity of developing germ cells should be strictly maintained throughout their vigorous proliferation processes. However, detailed mechanisms underlying this maintenance remain to be elucidated.

The aim of my research is to clarify the molecular mechanisms of cell autonomous cell death and the maintenance of genetic integrity in developing germ cells by examining the cellular responses against physical and/or chemical stresses, including DNA-damaging stress, such as radiation. The elucidation of the decision mechanism between survival and death of germ cells may contribute to the understanding of the unknown mechanisms underlying infertility caused by germ cell depletion, tumor formation originating from abnormal germ cell population, and selection mechanism of surviving cells employed by developing germ cells during embryogenesis. Additionally, our research may contribute in accumulating further information regarding the impact of DNA damage in embryonic germ cells, which may become apparent in grandchildren as well as subsequent generations.

In parallel, as a university research administrator (URA) of Frontier Research Institute of Interdisciplinary Sciences (FRIS), I am also investigating the way of supporting the communication and the mutual understanding between young researchers from different academic disciplines in order to facilitate their interdisciplinary research through their collaborative activities.

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