Integrative Life Sciences :
Cellular Network


Membrane Trafficking Mechanisms

Membrane Trafficking Mechanisms

Cells, the building blocks of multi-cellular organisms like ourselves, contain various organelles that are wrapped in membranes. Although they have unique functions, organelles are far from existing independently and frequently exchange information via “membrane trafficking.” Since a loss of proper membrane trafficking often causes various human diseases, understanding the molecular mechanism of membrane trafficking is one of the most important research themes in biology and medicine. For membrane trafficking to occur smoothly, “traffic controllers” must be present within the cells. In our laboratory, we investigate the role of the small GTPase Rab protein, one of the important traffic controllers, in membrane trafficking. Shedding light on its role will lead to an understanding of the molecular mechanisms of membrane trafficking.

Research Overview

Although various forms of membrane trafficking occurs within cells, in our research field, we particularly focus on neuron-specific membrane trafficking such as neurotransmitter release, autophagy, and transport of melanosomes (melanin-containing vesicles) in melanocytes. To date, we have discovered that the small GTPase Rab27 regulates transport of recycled synaptic vesicles to the presynaptic membrane in neurons and melanosome transport in melanocytes and, recently, we revealed the functions of Rab33B in autophagy and Rab38 in melanogenic enzyme transport. We attempt to uncover the molecular mechanisms of membrane trafficking underlying various life phenomena by using molecular biology, cellular biology, biochemistry, and molecular imaging techniques.

URLs http://www.biology.tohoku.ac.jp/lab-www/fukuda_lab/home-ja.html ↵http://www.biology.tohoku.ac.jp/lab-www/fukuda_lab/home-en.html

Faculty Members

Professor FUKUDA Mitsunori
  1. Understanding the molecular basis of neuron-specific membrane trafficking
  2. Understanding the regulatory mechanisms behind melanosome formation, maturation, and transport in melanocytes
  3. Understanding the regulatory mechanisms behind the membrane dynamics during autophagy
  4. Understanding the molecular basis of polarized trafficking in epithelial cells