Centers & Labs

Chief Scientist Laboratories

Molecular Physiology Laboratory

Chief Scientist: Rikiya Watanabe (Ph.D.)
Rikiya  Watanabe(Ph.D.)

Our study aims to understand cellular functions using a bottom-up approach from the single molecule level. To achieve this, we are attempting to elucidate the mechanism by which individual biomolecules or their networks function in a precise manner, by developing novel single-molecule techniques using multidisciplinary approaches, including biophysics, bioMEMS, and chemical biology. In addition, we are developing a methodology to investigate correlations between genetic mutations, dysfunctions, and diseases with single molecule sensitivity, which would provide new insights for biological as well as pharmaceutical studies.

Main Research Field


Related Research Fields

Interdisciplinary science and engineering

Biophysics / Nano/Microsystems


  • Membrane protein
  • Artificial Biomembrane
  • Artificial cell
  • bioMEMS
  • Digital Biology

Selected Publications

Papers with an asterisk(*) are based on research conducted outside of RIKEN.
  1. *Watanabe, R., Sakuragi, T., Noji, H., & Nagata, S.:
    “Single molecule analysis of phospholipid scrambling by TMEM16F”
    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 115, 3066-3071 (2018)
  2. *Baba, K., Yoshida, W., Toriyama, M., Shimada, T., Manning, C., Saito, M., Kohno, K., Trimmer, J., Watanabe, R., & Inagaki, N.:
    “Gradient-reading and mechano-effector machinery for netrin-1–induced axon guidance”
    eLife 7, e34593. (2018)
  3. *Abe, K., Katsuno, H., Toriyama, M., Baba, K., Mori, T., Hakoshima, T., Kanemura, Y., Watanabe, R., & Inagaki, N.:
    “Grip and slip of L1-CAM on adhesive substrates direct growth cone haptotaxis”
    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 115, 2764-2769 (2018)
  4. *Watanabe, R., Soga, N., Hara, M., & Noji, H.:
    “Arrayed water-in-oil droplet bilayers for membrane transport analysis”
    Lab Chip 16, 3043-3048 (2016)
  5. *Li, C. B., Ueno, H., Watanabe, R., Noji, H., & Komatsuzaki, T.
    “ATP hydrolysis assists Phosphate release and promotes reaction ordering in F1-ATPase”
    Nat. Commun. 6, 10223 (2015)
  6. *Watanabe, R., Soga, N., Fujita, D., Tabata, K. V., Yamauchi, L., Kim, SH., Asanuma, D., Kamiya, M., Urano, Y., Suga, H., & Noji, H.:
    “Arrayed lipid bilayer chambers allow single-molecule analysis of membrane transporter activity”
    Nat. Commun. 5, 4519 (2014)
  7. *Watanabe, R., & Noji, H.:
    “Timing of inorganic phosphate release modulates the catalytic activity of ATP-driven rotary motor protein”
    Nat. Commun. 5, 3486 (2014)
  8. *Watanabe, R., Tabata, KV., Iino, R., Ueno, H., Iwamoto, M., Oiki, S., & Noji, H.:
    “Biased Brownian stepping rotation of FoF1-ATP synthase driven by proton motive force”
    Nat. Commun. 4, 1631 (2013)
  9. *Watanabe, R., Okuno, D. Sakakihara, S. Shimabukuro, K. Iino, R. Yoshida, M. & Noji, H.:
    “Mechanical modulation of catalytic power on F1-ATPase”
    Nat. Chem. Biol. 1, 86-92 (2012)
  10. *Watanabe, R., Iino, R. & Noji, H.:
    “Phosphate release in F1-ATPase catalytic cycle follows ADP release.”
    Nat. Chem. Biol. 6, 814-20 (2010)

Contact Information

Bioscience Building S252
2-1 Hirosawa, Wako,
Saitama 351-0198, Japan

Email: rikiya.watanabe [at]

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