Fugaku Aoki / Professor / Division of Biological Sciences
Department of Integrated Biosciences / / Regulation of gene expression in the oocytes and preimplantation embryos; Regulation of flagellar bending in spermatozoa

Career Summary
1982: Graduated, Faculty of Agriculture, The University of Tokyo
1984: Master of Agriculture from The University of Tokyo
1984: Assistant Professor, St. Marriana University School of Medicine
1987: Assistant Professor, The University of Tokyo
1995: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from The University of Tokyo
1995-96: Research Associate, University of Pennsylvania
1999: Associate Professor, The University of Tokyo
2009: Professor, The University of Tokyo

Educational Activities
Graduate School: Ethics in Science and Technology
Graduate School: Control of Biological Function
Graduate School: Basic Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research Activities
I have been pursuing two main themes: (1) regulation of gene expression in oocytes and preimplantation embryos, and (2) regulation of flagellar bending in spermatozoa.
(1) I have been researching the mechanism by which oocytes are transformed into embryos after fertilization. Oocytes are differentiated cells that undergo meiotic cell cycle, while 1-cell embryos are totipotent and undergo mitotic cell cycle. Since these two cell types thus have totally different characteristics from each other, dramatic alteration in gene expression patterns occur before/after fertilization. This alteration is called as reprogaramming of gene expression and epigenetic factors play important roles. Therefore, I have examined various histone modifications and histone variants in mouse ooocytes and embryos and found that the levels of acetylation and methylation of histone H3 and H4, and histone H3 variants are dramatically changed during oogenesis and preimplantation development. I am currently seeking the precise roles of these changes in epigenetic factors in reprogramming of gene expression.
(2) The motility pattern of mammalian sperm changes during migration in the female genital tract and during incubation in vitro. This change in motility is termed hyperactivation. Hyperactivated motility is required for the swimming in a viscoelastic environment in the female genital tract. I am researching the mechanisms regulating the heyperactivated motility by analyzing flagellar bending patterns.

(1) Akiyama, T., Suzuki, O., Matsuda, J. and Aoki, F.: Dynamic replacement of histone H3 variants reprograms epigenetic marks in early mouse embryos. PLOS Genetics, 7, e1002279, 2011.
(2) Nashun, B., Yukawa, M.., Liu, H., Akiyama, T. and Aoki, F.: Changes in the nuclear deposition of histone H2A variants during preimplantation development in mice. Development, 137, 3785-3794, 2010.
(3) Akiyama, T., Nagata, M. and Aoki, F.: Inadequate histone deacetylation during oocyte meiosis causes aneuploidy and embryo death in mice. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA, 103, 7339-7344, 2006.
Other Activities
Editorial board member, Journal of Mammalian Ova Research
Council board member, The Japanese Society of Mammalian Ova Research
Future Plan
I will continue to pursue these current themes, especially reprogramming of gene expression. I will also expand analysis of the mechanism regulating gene expression the developmental stages, i.e., oogenesis and peri-implantation stages.
Messages to Students
I suppose that the most important point in conducting research is to be interested in the research subject at hand. Start with a question and interest in some subject and if you maintain your interest, you will enjoy your research and be successful in it. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to find a subject that you are keenly interested in.