Centers & Labs

RIKEN Brain Science Institute

Laboratory for Protein Conformation Diseases

Laboratory Head: Motomasa Tanaka (Ph.D.)
Motomasa  Tanaka(Ph.D.)

We are investigating the molecular basis of neuropsychiatric diseases using both in vivo and in vitro systems with a variety of techniques including neuroscience, genetics, chemical biology and structural biology. In conjunction, we are seeking to develop novel proteomics or genomics technologies to advance our understanding of the mechanisms of cellular aging and abnormal mRNA translation. Furthermore, we will uncover the structural basis of formation, disaggregation and propagation of amyloid fibers using the yeast prion system that we have established.

Main Research Field

Biological Sciences

Related Research Fields

Medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy


  • Neuropsychiatric disease
  • Protein aggregation
  • Amyloid
  • Nascent chain biology

Selected Publications

  1. Tanaka, M., Ishizuka, K., Nekooki-Machida, Y., Endo, R., Takashima, N., Sasaki, H., Komi, Y., Gathercole, A., Huston, E., Ishii, K., Hui, K.K., Kurosawa, M., Kim, S.H., Nukina, N.,Takimoto, E., Houslay, M.D., and Sawa, A.:
    "Aggregation of scaffolding protein DISC1 dysregulates phosphodiesterase 4 in Huntington's disease."
    J. Clin. Invest., 127, 1438-1450 (2017).
  2. Suzuki, G., Weissman, J.S., and Tanaka, M.:
    "[KIL-d] protein element confers antiviral activity via catastrophic viral mutagenesis."
    Mol. Cell, 60, 651-660 (2015).
  3. Tanaka, M. and Komi, Y.:
    "Layers of structure and function in protein aggregation."
    Nat. Chem. Biol., 11, 373-377 (2015).
  4. Nilsson, P., Loganathan, K., Sekiguchi, M., Matsuba, Y., Hui, K., Tsubuki, S., Tanaka, M., Iwata, N., Saito, T., and Saido, T.C.:
    "Aβ secretion and plaque formation depend on autophagy."
    Cell Reports, 5, 61-69 (2013).
  5. Suzuki, G., Shimazu, N., and Tanaka, M.:
    "A Yeast Prion, Mod 5, Promotes Acquired Drug Resistance and Cell Survival Under Environmental Stress."
    Science 336, 355-359 (2012).
  6. Tanaka, M.:
    "Tracking a toxic polyglutamine epitope."
    Nat. Chem. Biol. 7, 861-862 (2011).
  7. Ohhashi, Y., Ito, K., Toyama, B.H., Weissman, J.S., and Tanaka, M.:
    "Differences in prion strain conformations result from non-native interactions in a nucleus."
    Nat. Chem. Biol. 6, 225-230 (2010).
  8. Nekooki-Machida, Y., Kurosawa, M., Nukina, N., Ito, K., Oda, T., and Tanaka, M.:
    "Distinct conformations of in vitro and in vivo amyloids of huntingtin-exon1 show different cytotoxicity."
    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A., 106, 9678-9684(2009).
  9. Tanaka, M., Collins, S.R., Toyama, B.H., and Weissman, J.S.:
    "The Physical Basis of How Prion Conformations Determine Strain Phenotypes."
    Nature, 442, 585-589 (2006).

Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Motomasa Tanaka
Laboratory Head

Core Members

Yusuke Komi
Research Scientist
Ryo Endo
Research Scientist
Kai-Wan Kelvin Hui
Research Scientist
Chien-Wen Chen
Research Scientist
Yi-Kai Chen
Research Scientist
Hiroshi Kurahashi
Research Scientist
Yoshiko Nakagawa
Junior Research Associate
Noriko Takashima
Technical Staff I
Chih-Hao Shen
International Program Associate
John William Burke
Technical Staff II

Contact information

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

Email: motomasa [at]

Related links

Recent research results