Centers & Labs

RIKEN Brain Science Institute

Laboratory for Molecular Biophysics

Laboratory Head: Etsuko Muto (Ph.D.)
Etsuko  Muto(Ph.D.)

In neuronal axons, transport of vesicles is mediated by motor proteins such as kinesin and dynein. Our recent results have revealed that microtubules, which have been previously considered as merely a passive track for kinesin, are not actually passive: during the movement of kinesin, microtubules dynamically change their structure over a long range of microns in length. The result implicates a possibility that the state transition of microtubules may play an important role in the mechanism of motility. Our research goal is to understand the molecular mechanism underlying the state transition of microtubules, and elucidate how it is involved in the motility of motor proteins.

Main Research Field


Related Research Fields

Complex systems / Biological Sciences


  • allostericity
  • kinesin
  • microtubules
  • electrostatic interaction
  • single molecule imaging technique

Selected Publications

  1. Minoura I, Takazaki H, Ayukawa R, Saruta C, Hachikubo Y, Uchimura S, Hida T, Kamiguchi H, Shimogori T, and Muto E.:
    "Reversal of axonal growth defects in an extraocular fibrosis model by engineering the kinesin-microtubule interface."
    Nat Commun, 7, 10058 (2016)
  2. Uchimura S, Fujii T, Takazaki H, Ayukawa R, Nishikawa Y, Minoura I, Hachikubo Y, Kurisu G, Sutoh K, Kon T, Namba K, and Muto E.:
    "A flipped ion pair at the dynein-microtubule interface is critical for dynein motility and ATPase activation."
    J Cell Biol, 208(2), 211-222 (2015)
  3. Minoura I, Hachikubo Y, Yamakita Y, Takazaki H, Ayukawa R, Uchimura S, and Muto E.:
    "Overexpression, purification, and functional analysis of recombinant human tubulin dimer."
    FEBS Lett, 587, 3450-3455, (2013)
  4. Uchimura S, Oguchi Y, Hachikubo Y, Ishiwata S, and Muto E.:
    "Key residues on microtubule responsible for activation of kinesin ATPase."
    EMBO J, 29, 1167-1175, (2010).
  5. Minoura I, Katayama E, Sekimoto K, and Muto E.:
    "One-dimensional Brownian motion of charged nanoparticles along microtubules: A model system for weak binding interactions."
    Biophys J, 98, 1589-1597, (2010).
  6. Uchimura S, Oguchi Y, Katsuki M, Usui T, Osada H, Nikawa J, Ishiwata S, and Muto E.:
    "Identification of a strong binding site for kinesin on the microtubule using mutant analysis of tubulin."
    EMBO J, 25, 5932-5941 (2006).
  7. Minoura I and Muto E.:
    "Dielectric measurement of individual microtubules using the electroorientation method."
    Biophys J, 90, 3739-3748 (2006).
  8. Muto E, Sakai H, and Kaseda K.:
    "Long range cooperative binding of kinesin to a microtubule in the presence of ATP"
    J Cell Biol, 168, 691-696 (2005).

Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Etsuko Muto
Laboratory Head

Core Members

Seigo Iwata
Research Scientist
Masahito Hayashi
Research Scientist
Xuan Kien Ngo
Research Scientist
Rie Ayukawa
Technical Staff I
Yoshimi Asano
Technical Staff II
Kiyoko Yamada

Contact information

2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama 351-0198, Japan

Email: emuto2 [at]

Related links

Recent research results