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Masatoshi Takeichi


Election Year: 2007
Primary Section: 22, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Secondary Section: 24, Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Membership Type: Foreign Associate

Research Interests

I have been studying the mechanisms of cell-cell adhesion, which are fundamental to the construction of the animal body. In the earliest stages of my research, I found that cell-cell adhesion involves distinct Ca2+-dependent and -independent mechanisms. Subsequently, I identified a group of transmembrane proteins involved in the Ca2+-dependent mechanism, which was subsequently termed "cadherin." Our studies demonstrated that cadherin plays a key role in connecting cells as well as in various morphogenetic phenomena in animal development. We also identified Drosophila cadherins, providing evidence that the cadherin family and its functions are conserved among animal species. Our neurological studies showed that cadherin is also important for the formation, stability, and functions of synapses. Another interest of my laboratory is to understand the mechanisms of how cell-cell adhesion is regulated. By identifying alpha-catenin, a cytoplasmic protein associated with cadherin, we could show that cadherin co-operates with the catenins for cell junction formation and that, in many cancer-derived cells, this cadherin-catenin system is disrupted, leading us to propose that defects in the cadherin-based adhesion machinery may facilitate the dispersion of cancer cells. Our current studies include disclosing the biological functions of the large superfamily of non-classic cadherins, by which we expect to find novel cell-cell interaction mechanisms.

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