Research at the SUGIYAMA lab.


We are interested in the application of RNA interference (RNAi) where a double stranded-RNA (dsRNA) in spicific protein complex serves as a regulatory molecule to degrade mRNA specifically. RNAi regulates gene expression in physiological condition of anmal and plant for the proper development and growth. RNAi is a natural mechanism inherited in multicellular organisms in which micro RNA (miR) expressed from genome is convered to small interference RNA (siRNA). RNAi can be led artificially by introducing synthetic siRNA to cells.  Now, many kinds of siRNAs are available commercially. Down regulation of a gene expression may affect a cell function. By performing appropriate assay, we could know the role of the gene targeted by the siRNA. Thus, the siRNA is useful as a tool to investigate the gene function. We also note that the siRNA have value as a functional molecule appricable to molecular medicine.

There aremany genes which function are remained to be elucidated. We are interested in discovering a novel gene among those genes. To investigate genes and utilize siRNA, we developed a novel biotechnology.  RNAi libraries containing artificial sequences are the products that we made using a new RNAi libray construction method. To perform the method, we use loop-stem-loop DNA (Figure below). The original sequences which arrayed in the molecule enabled an artistic constructon of RNAi liblary cost effectively and efficiently. Because our RNAi library contains artificial sequences, we developed a web tool "SPICE" for the sequence analysis. The bioinformatics enables to search and show information related to shRNA target chandidated genes. Thus, our laboratoy retains the uniqe research enviloment for geme-wide RNAi screening. Our goal is to synthesis and discover novel shRNA with artificial sequence for cancer cell regulation. We are interesed in the target gene to be discovered and reveal the role in cancer cell regulation.


We have succeded in obtaining a novel shRNA containig artificial sequence. The shRNA has a capability of leading to cancer cell death. The homeostasis of cancer cells were affected by the internal death signal mediated by endoplasmic reticulum stress. Our detailed investigation have succeded in finding a target gene of the shRNA. The shRNA has knocked down TMEM117 gene expression. Little was known on TMEM117 before our research. TMEM117 protein was annotated as a transmembrane protein with unknown function.  We firstly have discovered TMEM117 which defined endoplasmic reticulum stress-induced cell death pathway. Our laboratory continues investigating the role of TMEM117 biologically and physiologically.

The research projects

(1) Basic and applied research on TMEM117 gene

(2) Genome-wide RNAi screening of cancer cell death, senescence and proliferation

(3) Develompment of cell-based assay using cancer stem cell and artificial intelligence technology


We are interested in bacterium which retains novel chemical compounds and reactions. Chromium leves in soil and water environment are strictry regulated in Japan. Bacterium in which toxic hexavalent chromium is convereted to non-toxic trivalent chromium is useful for the bioremediation technology of removing hexavalent chromium from heavy metal polluted evironments. We discvored a novel bactelium which retaines such function.  In collaboration with National Institute of Technology and Evaluation, Japan, we reveal the bacterium as a novel genus and species Flexivirga alba ST13T (Figure below), an actinobacteril taxon in the family Dermacoccaceae.  


Chromium is a well established-material for the use on surface treatment. Becauce of good looking and corrosion registant chromium has been an impotant industrial material. On the other hand, it has been concerned that envilomental pollution should not spread from industrial activity. Thus, it is important to develop a biotechnogy to treat waste water from factory and to remove hexavalent chromium from polluted enviroment. Our laboratory continues to investigate F. alba ST13T for the  development of a novel bioremediation technology.

The research project

(1) Molecular biology of Flexivirga alba ST13T



  We are interested in planarian as a model system of regeneration. Planarian survive after disection of body into two pieces. Head including brain regenerates from tail tissue. The amazing characther rely on the activities of adult stem cells. Planarin stem cell is termed neoblast. Although there are many difference in organismal system between human and planarian, basic components such as mitochondrial respiration are conserved. Thus, we use planarian as a model for stem cell research on ubiquitous molecules.  RNAi technology was applied on our planarian research which was introduced from  Dr. Phillip A. Newmark laboratory.  Maintenance of planarinan in laboratory requires effort and patience. Funny planarian looking may heal your heart.

The research project

(1) Effect of antioxidants on planarian regeneration and homeostasis

Coenzume Q is a organic compound rewquired in mitochondrial respiration. Coenzxume Q also has been known as an anitioxidant in membrane. We investigated genes which required in the biosynthesis of coenzume Q in planarian. We succeded in finding an important gene for the biosynthesis. Interestingly, knockdown of the gene led to defect in planarian regeneration. Coenzyme Q levels in human tissues is getting decreased by aging. It is interesting whether regeneration of wound tissue of aged person rely on coenzyme Q levels. The detailed descriptin of RNAi plaranian is available here.