Kuninori Suzuki / Associate Professor /
Bioimaging Center / / Autophagy in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Career Summary
1992: Graduated from the Faculty of Science (the University of Tokyo)
1994: Received a Master's degree from the University of Tokyo
1994-1999: Worked at Hamamatsu Photonics K.K.
1999: Entered the Graduate University for Advanced Studies
2002: Received a Ph.D. from the Graduate University for Advanced Studies
2002-2003: Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
2003-2009: Assistant Professor (National Institute for Basic Biology)
2009-2011: Assistant Professor (Tokyo Institute of Technology)
2011: Associate Professor (the University of Tokyo)
Educational Activities
Graduate school: Basic biology & Molecular biology
Graduate school: Systematic studies of yeast cells
Research Activities
Autophagy is a major pathway of bulk and non-selective degradation. In the Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast, autophagy has been studied as a cellular response for survival during nutrient-limited conditions. Recent studies have revealed that autophagy proceeds through the following steps: (i) detection of starvation signals; (ii) transmission of these signals to the autophagosome-generating apparatus known as the pre-autophagosomal structure (PAS); (iii) generation of an isolation membrane (IM) from the PAS; (iv) expansion of the IM; (v) fusion of the leading edges of the IM to complete autophagosome formation; (vi) fusion of the outer membrane of the autophagosome with the vacuolar membrane and subsequent release of autophagic bodies, whose membranes are derived from the inner membrane of the autophagosome; (vii) disintegration of the autophagic body and degradation of the contents by vacuolar hydrolases; and (viii) transport of the resulting amino acids and lipids to the cytoplasm for recycling. We are interested in every step of this process. We have a particular interest in the mechanisms of isolation membrane formation and disintegration of autophagic bodies.
1) Tatsuya Kawaoka, Shinsuke Ohnuki, Yoshikazu Ohya and Kuninori Suzuki. Morphometric analysis of autophagy-related structures in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Autophagy, 13, 2104-2110 (2017).
2) Eri Hirata, Yoshikazu Ohya and Kuninori Suzuki. Atg4 plays an important role in efficient expansion of autophagic isolation membranes by cleaving lipidated Atg8 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. PLOS ONE, 12, e0181047 (2017).
3) Meipin Ngu, Eri Hirata, Kuninori Suzuki. Visualization of Atg3 during autophagosome formation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. J. Biol. Chem. 290, 8146-8153 (2015).
Other Activities
The Japan Society for Cell Biology
The Japanese Biochemical Society
Future Plan
1) Reconstitution of autophagosome formation in vitro
2) Mechanisms of degradation of autophagic bodies
3) Comprehensive analysis of autophagosome cargoes
4) Systematic and numerical analysis of yeast organelle morphology
Messages to Students
I think the most important task for graduate students is to find your strong point during your master's and doctoral courses. If you can figure this out, your specialty can be applied to any studies in the biology field.