Centers & Labs

Chief Scientist Laboratories

Chromosome Dynamics Laboratory

Chief Scientist: Tatsuya Hirano (Ph.D.)
Tatsuya  Hirano(Ph.D.)

The duplication and segregation of the genome are two of the most fundamental events in cell reproduction. Our laboratory is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms that regulate the faithful segregation of chromosomes during mitosis. By using a cell-free extract derived from Xenopus laevis (African toad) eggs, we have discovered two multiprotein complexes, condensin and cohesin, that play central roles in chromosome condensation and sister chromatid cohesion, respectively. At the heart of the two complexes lie members of a large family of chromosomal ATPases, the SMC (structural maintenance of chromosomes) family. Accumulating lines of evidence suggest that SMC proteins actively participate in many aspects of higher-order chromosome dynamics, including chromosome-wide gene regulation, DNA recombination /repair and meiotic chromosome segregation. The long-term goal in our laboratory is to understand how condensin and cohesin work at a mechanistic level in vitro, and how they interact with other proteins to execute their essential functions in vivo. We take multidisciplinary approaches toward this goal, including biochemistry, cell biology, structural biology and biophysics. Our research will contribute to a better understanding of human health because chromosome anomalies, such as aneuploidy and translocations, are tightly associated with tumor development and birth defects.

Main Research Field

Biology & Biochemistry

Related Research Fields

Molecular Biology & Genetics

Research Subjects

  • Chromosome architecture and segregation
  • Molecular mechanisms of action of SMC protein complexes
  • Chromosome dynamics and human disease

Selected Publications

  1. Hirano, T.:
    “Condensin-based chromosome organization from bacteria to humans.”
    Cell, in press (2016)
  2. Shintomi, K., Takahashi, T. S., and Hirano, T.:
    “Reconstitution of mitotic chromatids with a minimum set of purified factors.”
    Nat. Cell Biol. 17:1014-1023 (2015)
  3. Houlard, M., Godwin, J., Metson, J., Lee, J., Hirano, T., and Nasmyth, K.:
    “Condensin confers the longitudinal rigidity of chromosomes.”
    Nat Cell Biol. 17:771-781 (2015)
  4. Kinoshita, K., Kobayashi, T. J., and Hirano T.:
    "Balancing acts of two HEAT subunits of condensin I support dynamic assembly of chromosome axes."
    Dev. Cell. 33:94-106 (2015)
  5. Nishide, K., and Hirano, T.:
    "Overlapping and non-overlapping functions of condensins I and II in neural stem cell divisions."
    PLoS Genet. 10:e1004847 (2014)
  6. Hirano, T.:
    "Condensins and the evolution of torsion-mediated genome organization."
    Trends Cell Biol. 24, 727-733 (2014)
  7. Fujiwara, T., Tanaka, K., Kuroiwa, T., and Hirano, T.:
    “Spatiotemporal dynamics of condensins I and II: evolutionary insights from the primitive red alga Cyanidioschyzon merolae.”
    Mol. Biol. Cell. 24, 2515-2527 (2013)
  8. Kamada, K., Miyata, M., and Hirano, T.:
    “Molecular basis of SMC ATPase activation: role of internal structural changes of the regulatory subcomplex ScpAB.”
    Structure. 21, 581-594 (2013)
  9. Ono, T., Yamashita, D., and Hirano, T.:
    "Condensin II initiates sister chromatid resolution during S phase."
    J. Cell Biol. 200, 429-441 (2013)
  10. Yamashita, D., Shintomi, K., Ono, T., Gavvovidis, I., Schindler, D., Neitzel, H., Trimborn, M., and Hirano, T.:
    "MCPH1 regulates chromosome condensation and shaping as a composite modulator of condensin II."
    J. Cell Biol. 194, 841-854 (2011)

Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Tatsuya Hirano
Chief Scientist

Core Members

Katsuhiko Kamada
Senior Research Scientist
Takao Ono
Senior Research Scientist
Kazuhisa Kinoshita
Senior Research Scientist
Keishi Shintomi
Research Scientist
Shoji Tane
Postdoctoral Researcher
Makoto Kozai
Postdoctoral Researcher
Akiko Matsuura
Technical Staff II

Contact information

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

Email: hiranot [at] riken.jp

Related links

Recent research results

July 21, 2017: RIKEN RESEARCH
Making do with less

Annual research report