Department of Developmental Biology and Neurosciences
Division of Developmental and Cell Biology

Developmental Biology 分野

Ayaki Nakamoto
キャンパス 浅虫海洋生物学教育研究センター(青森市浅虫)
専攻分野 Developmental Biology
連絡先 017-752-3388

The evolution of morphological diversity of bilateral animals is one of the important issues of biology. Bilateral animals (bilaterians) consist of three major superphyla: Deuterostomia (for example, vertebrates, ascidians, and echinoderms), Ecdysozoa (for example, arthropods and nematodes), and Lophotrochozoa (for example, annelids and mollusks). To understand the evolution of the bilateral animal body plan, it is important to compare the developmental mechanisms of these groups.

  When I was an undergraduate student, I was excited to learn the molecular and cellular basis for beautiful pattern formation of embryos and I decided to learn more.  During the graduate school and postdoctoral work, I studied the embryonic development of the oligochaete annelid Tubifex, the gastropod mollusk Ilyanassa, and the flour beetle Tribolium. Their body plans are very different; however, they share some aspects of early developmental processes such as cell lineages, cleavage patterns, and segmentation. These similarities and differences provide us with interesting insights into the evolution of the animal body plan. My current major project is to study the cell polarity and morphogenesis of embryos of the ascidian Halocynthia roretzi. Ascidians belong to the sister group of the vertebrates. Therefore it is expected that ascidian research will also help our understanding of vertebrate evolution.

2004 Ph. D., Graduate School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan (Adivisor, Dr. Shimizu Takashi)
2004-2014 Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA (Advisor, Dr. Nagy M. Lisa)
2014- Assistant Professor, Research Center for Marine Biology, Asamushi, Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University, Japan
  1. Mohri, K., Nakamoto, A., Shimizu, T.: The ontogeny of nanos homologue expression in the oligochaete annelid Tubifex tubifex. Gene Expression Patterns. 20, 32-41 (2016)
  2. Nakamoto, A., Hester, D. S., Constantinou, J. S., Blaine, G. W., Tewksbury, B. A., Matei, T. M., L.M. Nagy, Williams, A. T.: Changing cell behaviors during beetle embryogenesis correlates with slowing of segmentation. Nat. Commun. (2015)
  3. Gharbiah, M., Nakamoto, A., Johnson, B. A., Lambert, J. D., Nagy, M. L.: Ilyanassa Notch signaling implicated in dynamic signaling between all three germ layers. Int.J.Dev.Biol. 58, 551-562 (2014)
  4. Kato, Y.*, Nakamoto, A.*, Shiomi, I., Nakao, H., Shimizu, T.: Primordial germ cells in an oligochaete annelid are specified according to the birth rank order in the mesodermal teloblast lineage. Dev. Biol. 379, 246-257 (2013). *Equal contribution.
  5. Gharbiah, M., Nakamoto, A., Nagy, M. L.: Analysis of ciliary band formation in the mollusc Ilyanassa obsoleta. Dev. Genes Evol. 223, 225-235 (2013).
  6. Gline, S., Nakamoto, A., Cho, S.-J., Chi, C., Weisblat, A. D.: Lineage analysis of micromere 4d, a super-phylotypic cell for Lophotrochozoa, in the leech Helobdella and the sludgeworm Tubifex. Dev. Biol. 353, 120-133 (2011).
  7. Nakamoto, A., Nagy, M. L., Shimizu, T.: Secondary embryonic axis formation by transplantation of D quadrant micromeres in an oligochaete annelid. Development 138, 283-290 (2011).
  8. Nakamoto, A., Arai, A., Shimizu, T.: Specification of polarity of teloblastogenesis in the oligochaete annelid Tubifex: cellular basis for bilateral symmetry in the ectoderm. Dev. Biol. 272, 248-261(2004).
  9. Arai, A., Nakamoto, A., Shimizu, T.: Specification of ectodermal teloblast lineages in embryo of the oligochaete annelid Tubifex: involvement of novel cell-cell interactions. Development 128, 1211-1219(2001).
  10. Nakamoto, A., Arai, A., Shimizu, T.: Cell lineage analysis of pattern formation in the Tubifex embryo II. Segmentation in the ectoderm. Int.J.Dev.Biol. 44:797-805(2000).

The Zoological Society of Japan


Marine Biology and Laboratory Course I


The animal kingdom has approximately 35 phyla and each phylum is characterized by a specific body plan. There is a great diversity of body plans, especially for marine invertebrates; however, they all develop from a single cell (fertilized egg) to generate beautiful and complex structures with precise timing. This has been one of the biggest mysteries of life and we still have not explored it enough. Currently I would like to understand the evolution of embryonic development using the ascidian as a model system. Please visit our laboratory web site for details.


“What do we live for?” This has been one of the classic and difficult questions throughout history. However, do we even know enough about the biological aspects of life and living to ask this question? Learning the universal or unique principles of life not only accumulates our knowledge, but also fosters us to think deeply about the above question. I hope you will keep your curiosity about nature; that can be the most important motivation for research. We would welcome the student who likes oceans and embryos of marine invertebrates.