A history of studies on the gravity measurements at sea in Japan is reviewed with an emphasis on the contribution of the author. The first successful measurements at sea were made in 1923 by Vening Meinesz in the Netherlands using the pendulum apparatus installed in a submarine. However, the gravity measurements using a submarine are not convenient because the access to a submarine is limited. Professor Chuji Tsuboi made a number of unsuccessful attempts at developing a gravity meter that can be operated on a normal surface ship by reducing the noise by minimizing the motion of the gravity meter through a mechanical design.
I have chosen a new approach toward the measurements of gravity on a surface ship by simplifying the mechanical part using a string gravity meter that was installed directly on a vertical gyroscope in combination with the numerical and/or electronic reduction of noises. With this gravity meter TSSG (Tokyo Surface Ship Gravity Meter), we firstly succeeded in measuring gravity at sea onboard a surface ship in July 1961 and the measurements have been extended to the northwestern Pacific and beyond. The results reveal the fine structures of gravity field in and around trenches that provide important clues as to a number of geodynamic issues including the nature of the trench-trench interaction and the interaction of trenches with seamounts.
The cellular programs for meiosis and mitosis must be strictly distinguished but the mechanisms controlling the entry to meiosis remain largely elusive in higher organisms. In contrast, recent analyses in yeast have shed new light on the mechanisms underlying the mitosis–meiosis switch. In this review, the current understanding of these mechanisms in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe is discussed. Meiosis-inducing signals in this microbe emanating from environmental conditions including the nutrient status converge on the activity of an RRM-type RNA-binding protein, Mei2. This protein plays pivotal roles in both the induction and progression of meiosis and has now been found to govern the meiotic program in a quite unexpected manner. Fission yeast contains an RNA degradation system that selectively eliminates meiosis-specific mRNAs during the mitotic cell cycle. Mmi1, a novel RNA-binding protein of the YTH-family, is essential for this process. Mei2 tethers Mmi1 and thereby stabilizes the transcripts necessary for the progression of meiosis.
In 1987, about 150 years after the discovery of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), its responsible gene, the dystrophin gene, was cloned by Kunkel. This was a new substance. During these 20 odd years after the cloning, our understanding on dystrophin as a component of the subsarcolemmal cytoskeleton networks and on the pathomechanisms of and experimental therapeutics for DMD has been greatly enhanced. During this paradigm change, I was fortunately able to work as an active researcher on its frontiers for 12 years. After we discovered that dystrophin is located on the cell membrane in 1988, we studied the architecture of dystrophin and dystrophin-associated proteins (DAPs) complex in order to investigate the function of dystrophin and pathomechanism of DMD. During the conduct of these studies, we came to consider that the dystrophin–DAP complex serves to transmembranously connect the subsarcolemmal cytoskeleton networks and basal lamina to protect the lipid bilayer. It then became our working hypothesis that injury of the lipid bilayer upon muscle contraction is the cause of DMD. During this process, we predicted that subunits of the sarcoglycan (SG) complex are responsible for respective types of DMD-like muscular dystrophy with autosomal recessive inheritance. Our prediction was confirmed to be true by many researchers including ourselves. In this review, I will try to explain what we observed and how we considered concerning the architecture and function of the dystrophin–DAP complex, and the pathomechanisms of DMD and related muscular dystrophies.
My career has been focused in two major areas, analytical chemistry and biochemistry of complex lipids and glycoconjugates. Included here are the pioneering work on the gas chromatography of long-chain sphingolipid bases, carbohydrates, steroids and urinary organic acids. Mass spectrometry was utilized extensively in structural studies of sphingolipids, fatty acids, carbohydrates, steroids, urinary organic acids, polyisoprenoid alcohols, and juvenile hormone. Computer systems were developed for the acquisition and analysis of mass spectra, and were used for development of automated metabolic profiling of complex mixtures of metabolites. Fabry’s disease was discovered to be a glycosphingolipidosis. Enzymes of lysosomal metabolism of glycosphingolipids were purified, characterized, and used in one of the first demonstrations of the feasibility of enzyme replacement therapy in a lysosomal storage disorder (Fabry’s disease). Extracellular sialidases were studied to evaluate the hypothesis that they might be involved in the regulation of membrane growth factor receptors. The enzyme for hematoside synthesis was purified and characterized.
Fluorescent probes, which allow visualization of cations such as Ca2+, Zn2+etc., small biomolecules such as nitric oxide (NO) or enzyme activities in living cells by means of fluorescence microscopy, have become indispensable tools for clarifying functions in biological systems. This review deals with the general principles for the design of bioimaging fluorescent probes by modulating the fluorescence properties of fluorophores, employing mechanisms such as acceptor-excited Photoinduced electron Transfer (a-PeT), donor-excited Photoinduced electron Transfer (d-PeT), and spirocyclization, which have been established by our group. The a-PeT and d-PeT mechanisms are widely applicable for the design of bioimaging probes based on many fluorophores and the spirocyclization process is also expected to be useful as a fluorescence off/on switching mechanism. Fluorescence modulation mechanisms are essential for the rational design of novel fluorescence probes for target molecules. Based on these mechanisms, we have developed more than fifty bioimaging probes, of which fourteen are commercially available. The review also describes some applications of the probes developed by our group to in vitro and in vivo systems.
Histamine and prostaglandins (PGs) play a variety of physiological roles as autacoids, which function in the vicinity of their sources and maintain local homeostasis in the body. They stimulate target cells by acting on their specific receptors, which are coupled to trimeric G proteins. For the precise understanding of the physiological roles of histamine and PGs, it is necessary to clarify the molecular mechanisms involved in their synthesis as well as their receptor-mediated responses. We cloned the cDNAs for mouse L-histidine decarboxylase (HDC) and 6 mouse prostanoid receptors (4 PGE2 receptors, PGF receptor, and PGI receptor). We then characterized the expression patterns and functions of these genes. Furthermore, we established gene-targeted mouse strains for HDC and PG receptors to explore the novel pathophysiological roles of histamine and PGs. We have here summarized our research, which should contribute to progress in the molecular biology of HDC and PG receptors.