Tasuku Honjo

Kyoto University

Election Year: 2001
Primary Section: 43, Immunology and Inflammation
Secondary Section: 41, Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology
Membership Type: Foreign Associate
Photo Credit: Kyoto University

Research Interests

I have studied several aspects of lymphocyte development under normal and aberrant conditions. My laboratory has demonstrated that immunoglobulin class switching is mediated by a region-specific recombination, accompanied by looping-out deletion of immunoglobulin constant-region genes from chromosomes. We have also cloned cDNA for IL-4 and IL-5 cytokines that regulate class switching. More recently we identified a putative RNA-editing enzyme, AID (activation induced cytidine deaminase), which regulates not only class switch recombination but also somatic hypermutation. This unexpected finding suggests that the two apparently different genetic alteration systems in the immunoglobulin gene locus may be regulated by yet another alteration mechanism of genetic information. Another line of studies led us to isolate the PD-1 receptor that delivers negative signaling upon interaction with its ligands PD-L1 and PD-L2. PD-1 deficiency causes autoimmune symptoms such as systemic lupus erythematosus in C57/BL mice and dilated cardiomyopathy in BALB/c mice, indicating that PD-1 plays important roles in immune tolerance. We have identified the suppressor of Hairless gene in Drosophila and its mammalian homologue RBP-J, which has been shown to be the direct signaling target of the Notch receptor and to regulate lineage commitment and differentiation of varieties of cells, including lymphocytes.

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