Ecological Developmental Adaptability Life Sciences :
Biological Dynamics


Assistant Professor UMETSU Daiki
Campus Aobayama campus
Laboratory Histogenetic Dynamics
Tel +81-22-795-6701
E-mail umetsu@tohoku.ac.jp

Shapes of organisms are highly variable, yet there are common principles in constructing different body or tissue shapes. Recent study showed that common cellular properties or molecular nature are repeatedly utilized in distinct morphogenetic processes. The goal of my study is to understand how the cellular behaviors common to various morphogenesis are implemented by molecular interactions and how organisms utilize those common principles to build different shapes. I would like to address those questions by using a tiny organism, Drosophila with combination of multi-disciplinary approaches such as genetics, molecular biology and mechanics.

2006 Ph.D. Graduate program in Biophysics and Biochemistry, Graduate School of Science, the University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan. Prof. Tetsuya Tabata’s lab.
2006-2007 Postdoctoral fellow, Tokyo university, Tokyo, Japan. Prof. Tetsuya Tabata’s lab.
2007-2012 Postdoctoral fellow, MPI-CBG, Dresden, Germany. Dr. Christian Dahmann’s group
2012-2014 Postdoctoral fellow, Dresden University of Technology, Institute of Genetics, Dresden, Germany. Prof. Dr. Christian Dahmann’s group
2014-2016 Research scientist, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, Kobe, Japan, Dr. Erina Kuranaga’s team
2016-current Assistant professor, Graduate School of Life Science, Tohoku university, Prof. Erina Kuranaga’s lab
Selected Publications

Umetsu D. and Dahmann, C.
Signals and mechanics shaping compartment boundaries in Drosophila.
WIREs Dev Biol, WILEY, 4(4):407-17, 2015

Umetsu, D., Dunst, S., and Dahmann, C.
An RNA interference screen for genes required to shape the anteroposterior compartment boundary in Drosophila identifies the Eph receptor.
PLOS ONE, PLOS, 9(12): e114340, 2014

Umetsu, D., Aigouy, B., Aliee, M, Sui, L., Eaton, S., Jülicher F., and Dahmann, C.
Local increases in mechanical tension shape compartment boundaries by biasing cell intercalations.
Current Biology, Cell Press, 24: 1798-1805, 2014

Umetsu, D. and Dahmann, C.
Compartment boundaries: Sorting cells with tension
Fly, Landes Biosciences, 4:3, 241-245, 2010

Umetsu, D.*, Landsberg, K.*, Farhadifar, R.*, Ranft, J.*, Widmann, T., Bittig, T., Said, A., Jülicher, F. and Dahmann, C.
Increased cell bond tension governs cell sorting at the Drosophila anteroposterior compartment boundary
Current Biology, Cell Press, 19: 1-6, 2009.
* equal contribution

Umetsu, D.*, Yasugi, T.*, Murakami, S., Sato, M. and Tabata, T.
Drosophila optic lobe neuroblasts triggered by a wave of proneural gene expression that is negatively regulated by JAK/STAT.
Development, The Company of Biologists Ltd, 135: 1471-80, 2008. 
* equal contribution

Umetsu, D., Murakami, S., Sato, M. and Tabata, T.
The highly ordered assembly of retinal axons and their synaptic partners is regulated by Hedgehog/Single-minded in the Drosophila visual system.
Development, The Company of Biologists Ltd, 133: 791-800, 2006.


Activities in Academic Societies

Japanese Society of Developmental Biologists, The Molecular Biology of Japan

Recent Activities

Tissue boundaries are formed by preventing cell mixing between neighboring cell populations. Boundaries are found not only between tissues but also within a tissue. Those boundaries are used as a landmark that gives cells positional information during tissue patterning. However, how cell mixing is limited at boundaries are unknown. I have been trying to understand the mechanisms by combining genetics, micro-laser dissection, live imaging, quantitative image analysis and computer simulations. We found that mechanical tension on cell junctions is locally increased at the boundaries. The local increase in tension is important for maintaining boundaries. Currently, I am interested in how cells locally increase mechanical tension at boundaries at molecular level. I am also aiming to understand how cells sense physical forces and utilize them during tissue morphogenesis.

Message to Students

One of the most important things in scientific research is to keep asking questions. How can you find good questions? I believe they come from careful observations from daily experiments. Recent advances in microscopy technology and image processing now allow us to observe living organisms at a high resolution that I could not imagine when I was a student. I hope I can help you find your good questions from your own observations of living cells in living tissues.