Toru Nakano

Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), Edo, Tōkyō, Japan

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Publications (134)969.23 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In mammals, the structure of the pericentromeric region alters from a ring structure to a dot-like structure during the 2-cell stage. This structural alteration is termed chromocenter formation (CF) and is required for preimplantation development. Although reverse transcripts of major satellite repeats at pericentromeric regions are known to play roles in CF, its underlying mechanism is not fully understood. We previously reported that Stella (also known as PGC7 and Dppa3) deficiency led to developmental arrest at the preimplantation stage, accompanied by frequent chromosome segregation. In this study, we further investigated the effect of Stella deficiency on chromatin reorganization. The Stella-null embryos exhibited impaired CF and reduced expression of the reverse strand of major satellite repeats. In addition, the accumulation of H3.3, a histone H3 variant associated with transcriptional activation, at the pericentromeric regions and expression of the H3.3-specific chaperone Daxx were reduced in Stella-null embryos. These abnormalities were restored by the enforced expression of Daxx in Stella-null embryos. Thus, Stella controls the expression of Daxx and ensures chromatin reorganization in early embryos. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 08/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.bbrc.2015.08.106 · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: De novo DNA methylation of retrotransposons is critical for silencing. Here, we use DNA methylation analysis to examine retrotransposons in mouse male germ cells. DNA methylation of long interspersed nuclear elements (LINEs) is dependent on piRNA, and younger LINEs exhibit greater piRNA dependence. In contrast, most long terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposons produce lower levels of piRNAs and do not show significant piRNA dependence. The relationship between DNA methylation and corresponding piRNA expression of several LTR retrotransposons was reduced in Mili-null cells, but not Miwi2-null cells. These observations raise the possibility of piRNA-dependent DNA methylation without Miwi2. Therefore, it appears that the molecular mechanisms of the gene silencing of retrotransposons are more complicated than previously thought. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Cell Reports 08/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.celrep.2015.07.060 · 8.36 Impact Factor
  • Satomi Kuramochi-Miyagawa · Toru Nakano
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    ABSTRACT: Our paper reports a novel strategy for the artificial introduction of DNA methylation in mouse gonocytes [1]. The manuscript presents data showing that the concomitant expression of sense and anti-sense of EGFP transgenes in embryonic male germ cells induces gene silencing via the piRNA pathway and that the expression of an antisense Dnmt3L transgene induces silencing of the endogenous Dnmt3L gene. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Current biology: CB 08/2015; 25(16):R710. DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2015.07.020 · 9.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Endogenous bornavirus-like nucleoprotein elements (EBLNs) are sequences within vertebrate genomes derived from reverse transcription and integration of ancient bornaviral nucleoprotein mRNA via the host retrotransposon machinery. While species with EBLNs appear relatively resistant to bornaviral disease, the nature of this association is unclear. We hypothesized that EBLNs could give rise to antiviral interfering RNA in the form of PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs), a class of small RNA known to silence transposons but not exogenous viruses. We found that in both rodents and primates, which acquired their EBLNs independently some 25–40 million years ago, EBLNs are present within piRNA-generating regions of the genome far more often than expected by chance alone (ℙ = 8 × 10−3–6 × 10−8). Three of the seven human EBLNs fall within annotated piRNA clusters and two marmoset EBLNs give rise to bona fide piRNAs. In both rats and mice, at least two of the five EBLNs give rise to abundant piRNAs in the male gonad. While no EBLNs are syntenic between rodent and primate, some of the piRNA clusters containing EBLNs are; thus we deduce that EBLNs were integrated into existing piRNA clusters. All true piRNAs derived from EBLNs are antisense relative to the proposed ancient bornaviral nucleoprotein mRNA. These observations are consistent with a role for EBLN-derived piRNA-like RNAs in interfering with ancient bornaviral infection. They raise the hypothesis that retrotransposon-dependent virus-to-host gene flow could engender RNA-mediated, sequence-specific antiviral immune memory in metazoans analogous to the CRISPR/Cas system in prokaryotes.
    RNA 08/2015; 21(10). DOI:10.1261/rna.052092.115 · 4.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mouse parthenogenetic haploid embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are pluripotent cells generated from chemically activated oocytes. Haploid ESCs provide an opportunity to study the effect of genetic alterations because of their hemizygotic characteristics. However, their further application for the selection of unique phenotypes remains limited since ideal reporters to monitor biological processes such as cell differentiation are missing. Here, we report the application of CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knock-in of a reporter cassette, which does not disrupt endogenous target genes in mouse haploid ESCs. We first validated the system by inserting the P2A-Venus reporter cassette into the housekeeping gene locus. In addition to the conventional strategy using the Cas9 nuclease, we employed the Cas9 nickase and truncated sgRNAs to reduce off-target mutagenesis. These strategies induce targeted insertions with an efficiency that correlated with sgRNA guiding activity. We also engineered the neural marker gene Sox1 locus and verified the precise insertion of the P2A-Venus reporter cassette and its functionality by monitoring neural differentiation. Our data demonstrate the successful application of the CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knock-in system for establishing haploid knock-in ESC lines carrying gene specific reporters. Genetically modified haploid ESCs have potential for applications in forward genetic screening of developmental pathways.
    Scientific Reports 06/2015; 5:10710. DOI:10.1038/srep10710 · 5.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although mammalian cloning by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) has been established in various species, the low developmental efficiency has hampered its practical applications. Treatment of SCNT-derived embryos with histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors can improve their development, but the underlying mechanism is still unclear. To address this question, we analysed gene expression profiles of SCNT-derived 2-cell mouse embryos treated with trichostatin A (TSA), a potent HDAC inhibitor that is best used for mouse cloning. Unexpectedly, TSA had no effect on the numbers of aberrantly expressed genes or the overall gene expression pattern in the embryos. However, in-depth investigation by gene ontology and functional analyses revealed that TSA treatment specifically improved the expression of a small subset of genes encoding transcription factors and their regulatory factors, suggesting their positive involvement in de novo RNA synthesis. Indeed, introduction of one of such transcription factors, Spi-C, into the embryos at least partially mimicked the TSA-induced improvement in embryonic development by activating gene networks associated with transcriptional regulation. Thus, the effects of TSA treatment on embryonic gene expression did not seem to be stochastic, but more specific than expected, targeting genes that direct development and trigger zygotic genome activation at the 2-cell stage.
    Scientific Reports 05/2015; 5:10127. DOI:10.1038/srep10127 · 5.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Global DNA demethylation and subsequent de novo DNA methylation take place in mammalian male embryonic germ cells [1-3]. P-element-induced wimpy testis (PIWI)-interacting RNAs (piRNAs), which are germline-specific small RNAs, have been postulated to be critically important for de novo DNA methylation of retrotransposon genes, and many proteins, including PIWI family proteins, play pivotal roles in this process [4-6]. In the embryonic mouse testis, two mouse PIWI proteins, mouse PIWI-like (MILI) and mouse PIWI2 (MIWI2), are involved in the biogenesis of piRNAs through the so-called ping-pong amplification cycle [7-10], and long single-stranded RNAs transcribed from the gene regions of piRNA clusters have been proposed to be the initial material [11-16]. However, it remains unclear whether transcription from the piRNA clusters is required for the biogenesis of piRNAs. To answer this question, we developed a novel artificial piRNA production system by simple expression of sense and antisense EGFP mRNAs in embryonic male germ cells in the piRNA biogenesis phase. EGFP expression was silenced by piRNA-dependent DNA methylation, indicating that concomitant expression of sense and antisense RNA transcripts is necessary and sufficient for piRNA production and subsequent piRNA-dependent gene silencing. In addition, we demonstrated that this artificial piRNA induction paradigm could be applied to an endogenous gene essential for spermatogenesis, DNMT3L [3, 17, 18]. This study not only provides novel insights into the molecular mechanisms of piRNA production, but also presents an innovative strategy for inducing epigenetic modification in germ cells. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Current Biology 03/2015; 25(7). DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2015.01.060 · 9.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In the mouse zygote, Stella/PGC7 protects 5-methylcytosine (5mC) of the maternal genome from Tet3-mediated oxidation to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC). Although ablation of Stella causes early embryonic lethality, the underlying molecular mechanisms remain unknown. In this study, we report impaired DNA replication and abnormal chromosome segregation (ACS) of maternal chromosomes in Stella-null embryos. In addition, phosphorylation of H2AX (γH2AX), which has been reported to inhibit DNA replication, accumulates in the maternal chromatin of Stella-null zygotes in a Tet3-dependent manner. Cell culture assays verified that ectopic appearance of 5hmC induces abnormal accumulation of γH2AX and subsequent growth retardation. Thus, Stella protects maternal chromosomes from aberrant epigenetic modifications to ensure early embryogenesis. © 2015 The Authors.
    EMBO Reports 02/2015; 16(5). DOI:10.15252/embr.201439427 · 9.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Primordial germ cells (PGCs) can give rise to pluripotent stem cells known as embryonic germ cells (EGCs) when cultured with basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), stem cell factor (SCF), and leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF). Somatic cells can give rise to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) by introduction of the reprogramming transcription factors Oct4, Sox2, and Klf4. The effects of Sox2 and Klf4 on somatic cell reprogramming can be reproduced using the small molecule compounds, transforming growth factor-β receptor (TGFβR) inhibitor and Kempaullone, respectively. Here we examined the effects of TGFβR inhibitor and Kempaullone on EGC derivation from PGCs. Treatment of PGCs with TGFβR inhibitor and/or Kempaullone generated pluripotent stem cells under standard embryonic stem cell (ESC) culture conditions without bFGF and SCF, which we termed induced EGCs (iEGCs). The derivation efficiency of iEGCs was dependent on the differentiation stage and sex. DNA methylation levels of imprinted genes in iEGCs were reduced, with the exception of the H19 gene. The promoters of genes involved in germline development were generally hypomethylated in PGCs, but three germline genes showed comparable DNA methylation levels among iEGs, ESCs, and iPSCs. These results show that PGCs can be reprogrammed into pluripotent state using small molecule compounds, and that DNA methylation of these germline genes is not maintained in iEGCs. Stem Cells 2014
    Stem Cells 01/2015; 33(1). DOI:10.1002/stem.1838 · 6.52 Impact Factor
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  • Toshinobu Nakamura · Toru Nakano
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    ABSTRACT: The development of a mouse begins after fertilization, the fusion of the ovulated oocyte with a sperm. During the development of the preimplantation embryo, the parental genomes undergo extensive epigenetic reprogramming, including genome-wide DNA demethylation. Shortly after fertilization, DNA methylation of the paternal genome is rapidly removed by a replication-independent process. In contrast, DNA methylation of the maternal genome is reduced gradually, in a replication-dependent manner. Thus, DNA methylation status is quite different between the paternal and maternal genomes in the zygote stage; this difference is called “epigenetic asymmetry.” Recent studies have revealed that the maternal factor Stella (also known as PGC7 and Dppa3, “developmental pluripotency-associated 3”) is required for both the maintenance of DNA methylation status of some imprinted genes and retrotransposons and for the establishment of epigenetic asymmetry in zygotes.
    Springer Berlin Heidelberg edited by Alexander Meissner, Jörn Walter, 11/2014; Springer., ISBN: 978-3-642-31973-0
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    ABSTRACT: Primordial germ cells (PGCs) are undifferentiated germ cells in embryos, the fate of which is to become gametes; however, mouse PGCs can easily be reprogrammed into pluripotent embryonic germ cells (EGCs) in culture in the presence of particular extracellular factors, such as combinations of Steel factor (KITL), LIF and bFGF (FGF2). Early PGCs form EGCs more readily than do later PGCs, and PGCs lose the ability to form EGCs by embryonic day (E) 15.5. Here, we examined the effects of activation of the serine/threonine kinase AKT in PGCs during EGC formation; notably, AKT activation, in combination with LIF and bFGF, enhanced EGC formation and caused ∼60% of E10.5 PGCs to become EGCs. The results indicate that the majority of PGCs at E10.5 could acquire pluripotency with an activated AKT signaling pathway. Importantly, AKT activation did not fully substitute for bFGF and LIF, and AKT activation without both LIF and bFGF did not result in EGC formation. These findings indicate that AKT signal enhances and/or collaborates with signaling pathways of bFGF and of LIF in PGCs for the acquisition of pluripotency.
    Development 10/2014; 141(23). DOI:10.1242/dev.113779 · 6.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Primordial germ cells (PGCs) are embryonic germ cell precursors. Specification of PGCs occurs under the influence of mesodermal induction signaling during in vivo gastrulation. Although bone morphogenetic proteins and Wnt signaling play pivotal roles in both mesodermal and PGC specification, the signal regulating PGC specification remains unknown. Coculture of mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) with OP9 feeder cells induces mesodermal differentiation in vitro. Using this mesodermal differentiation system, we demonstrated that PGC-like cells were efficiently induced from mouse ESCs by ERK signaling inhibition. Inhibition of ERK signaling by a MEK inhibitor upregulated germ cell marker genes but downregulated mesodermal genes. In addition, the PGC-like cells showed downregulation of DNA methylation and formed pluripotent stem cell colonies upon treatment with retinoic acid. These results show that inhibition of ERK signaling suppresses mesodermal differentiation but activates germline differentiation program in this mesodermal differentiation system. Our findings provide a new insight into the signaling networks regulating PGC specification. Stem Cells 2014
    Stem Cells 10/2014; 32(10). DOI:10.1002/stem.1781 · 6.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: DNA methylation is a key epigenetic regulator in mammals, and the dynamic balance between methylation and demethylation impacts various processes, from development to disease. DNA methylation is erased during replication when DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) fails to methylate the daughter strand, in a process known as passive DNA demethylation. We found that the enforced expression of Stella (also known as PGC7, Dppa3), a maternal factor required for the maintenance of DNA methylation in early embryos, induced global DNA demethylation in NIH3T3 cells. This demethylation was caused by the binding of Stella to Np95 (also known as Uhrf1, ICBP90) and the subsequent inhibition of DNMT1 recruitment. Considering that impaired DNA methylation profiles are associated with various developmental or disease phenomena, Stella may be a powerful tool with which to study the biological effects of global DNA hypomethylation.
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 09/2014; 453(3). DOI:10.1016/j.bbrc.2014.09.101 · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: HSP90, found in all kingdoms of life, is a major chaperone protein regulating many client proteins. We demonstrated that HSP90α, one of two paralogs duplicated in vertebrates, plays an important role in the biogenesis of fetal PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNA), which act against the transposon activities, in mouse male germ cells. The knockout mutation of Hsp90α resulted in a large reduction in the expression of primary and secondary piRNAs and mislocalization of MIWI2, a PIWI homolog. Whereas the mutation in Fkbp6 encoding a co-chaperone reduced piRNAs of 28–32 nucleotides in length, the Hsp90α mutation reduced piRNAs of 24–32 nucleotides, suggesting the presence of both FKBP6-dependent and -independent actions of HSP90α. Although DNA methylation and mRNA levels of L1 retrotransposon were largely unchanged in the Hsp90α mutant testes, the L1-encoded protein was increased, suggesting the presence of post-transcriptional regulation. This study revealed the specialized function of the HSP90α isofom in the piRNA biogenesis and repression of retrotransposons during the development of male germ cells in mammals.
    Nucleic Acids Research 09/2014; 42(19). DOI:10.1093/nar/gku881 · 9.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: DNA methylation of retrotransposons and imprinted genes is accurately regulated in spermatogenesis. In particular, CpG methylation of long interspersed elements-1 (LINE1 or L1) and intracisternal A-particle (IAP) retrotransposons during spermatogenesis has been well characterized. CpG methylation of the regulatory regions of retrotransposons is acquired during embryonic testis development; however, reductions of DNA methylation in LINE1 and/or IAP and/or Rasgrf1, which is an imprinted gene, are observed in deficient mice of piRNA biogenesis concerning. Here, we describe two methods, bisulfite sequencing and Southern blotting using a methylation-sensitive restriction enzyme, for analysis of DNA methylation of LINE1, IAP, and imprinted genes in mouse testes.
    Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 01/2014; 1093:97-109. DOI:10.1007/978-1-62703-694-8_8 · 1.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: piRNA (PIWI-interacting RNA) is a germ cell-specific small RNA in which biogenesis PIWI (P-element wimpy testis) family proteins play crucial roles. MILI (mouse Piwi-like), one of the three mouse PIWI family members, is indispensable for piRNA production, DNA methylation of retrotransposons presumably through the piRNA, and spermatogenesis. The biogenesis of piRNA has been divided into primary and secondary processing pathways; in both of these MILI is involved in mice. To analyze the molecular function of MILI in piRNA biogenesis, we utilized germline stem (GS) cells, which are derived from testicular stem cells and possess a spermatogonial phenotype. We established MILI-null GS cell lines and their revertant, MILI-rescued GS cells, by introducing the Mili gene with Sendai virus vector. Comparison of wild-type, MILI-null, and MILI-rescued GS cells revealed that GS cells were quite useful for analyzing the molecular mechanisms of piRNA production, especially the primary processing pathway. We found that glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase 2 (GPAT2), a mitochondrial outer membrane protein for lysophosphatidic acid, bound to MILI using the cells and that gene knockdown of GPAT2 brought about impaired piRNA production in GS cells. GPAT2 is not only one of the MILI bound proteins but also a protein essential for primary piRNA biogenesis.
    RNA 04/2013; 19(6). DOI:10.1261/rna.038521.113 · 4.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: DNA methylation is a central epigenetic event that regulates cellular differentiation, reprogramming, and pathogenesis. Genome-wide DNA demethylation occurs in preimplantation embryos and in embryonic germ cell precursors called primordial germ cells (PGCs). We previously showed that Dppa3, also known as Stella and PGC7, protects the maternal genome from tet methylcytosine dioxygenase 3 (Tet3)-mediated conversion of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) in zygotes. Here, we demonstrated that retrotransposon genes, such as long interspersed nuclear element-1 (Line-1) and intracisternal A particle (IAP), showed higher 5mC levels in Dppa3-null PGCs. In contrast, oxidative bisulfite sequence analysis revealed that the amounts of 5hmC in Line-1 and IAP were slightly reduced in the Dppa3-deficient PGCs. From our findings, we propose that Dppa3 is involved in the Tet-mediated active demethylation process during reprogramming of PGCs.
    Biology of Reproduction 04/2013; 88(5). DOI:10.1095/biolreprod.112.105932 · 3.32 Impact Factor
  • Ippei Nagamori · Toru Nakano
    Asian Journal of Andrology 03/2013; 15(3). DOI:10.1038/aja.2013.19 · 2.60 Impact Factor
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    Shinichiro Chuma · Toru Nakano
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    ABSTRACT: Transposable elements and their fossil sequences occupy about half of the genome in mammals. While most of these selfish mobile elements have been inactivated by truncations and mutations during evolution, some copies remain competent to transpose and/or amplify, posing an ongoing genetic threat. To control such mutagenic sequences, host genomes have developed multiple layers of defence mechanisms, including epigenetic regulation and RNA silencing. Germ cells, in particular, employ the piwi-small RNA pathway, which plays a central and adaptive role in safeguarding the germline genome from retrotransposons. Recent studies have revealed that a class of developmentally regulated genes, which have long been implicated in germ cell specification and differentiation, such as vasa and tudor family genes, play key roles in the piwi pathway to suppress retrotransposons, indicating that the piwi-mediated genome protection is at the core of germline development. Furthermore, while the piwi system primarily operates post-transcriptionally at the RNA level, it also affects the epigenetics of cognate genome loci, offering an intriguing link between small RNAs and transcriptional control in mammals. In this review, we summarize our current understanding of the piwi pathway in mice, which is emerging as a fundamental component of spermatogenesis that ensures male fertility and genome integrity.
    Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences 01/2013; 368(1609):20110338. DOI:10.1098/rstb.2011.0338 · 7.06 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

9k Citations
969.23 Total Impact Points


  • 2013–2015
    • Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)
      Edo, Tōkyō, Japan
  • 1999–2015
    • Osaka University
      • • Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences
      • • Department of Pathology
      • • Division of Cellular and Molecular Biology
      Suika, Ōsaka, Japan
    • Kyushu University
      • Medical Institute of Bioregulation - MIB Hospital
      Hukuoka, Fukuoka, Japan
  • 1988–2013
    • Kyoto University
      • • Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences
      • • Department of Medical Chemistry
      Kioto, Kyōto, Japan
  • 2011
    • Universität des Saarlandes
      Saarbrücken, Saarland, Germany
  • 2001–2007
    • University of Toronto
      • Department of Medical Biophysics
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2004
    • Chiba University
      • Graduate School of Medicine
      Tiba, Chiba, Japan
  • 1997
    • Hokkaido University
      Sapporo, Hokkaidō, Japan
  • 1995
    • Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine
      Kioto, Kyōto, Japan