Laboratory of Chromosome Dynamics

In 2004, our laboratory discovered shugoshin, the protein that plays an essential role in chromosome segregation. We enjoy the research to reveal the basic mechanisms of chromosome segregation.
Yoshinori WATANABE, Professor (Department of Biological Science, Graduate School of Science)

Research content

Study of Fundamental Mechanisms of Chromosome Segregation

Chromosomes, the identity of the genome, are maintained as homologous pairs, as they derive from dad and mum. During mitosis, all copies of chromosomes are accurately transferred to daughter cells by equational division. Any mistakes in this process frequently lead to apoptotic cell death or cancer that causes lethal defects to the organism. In the germ cells, a specific nuclear division called meiosis generates the gametes (eggs and sperms), which carry a single set of chromosomes. Down, syndrome and most early miscarriages in humans stem from a disorder of chromosome segregation in meiosis. Thus, it is very important for biology and medical science to understand the regulatory mechanisms of chromosome segregation. We aim to elucidate the fundamental principles of chromosome segregation (there are indeed many interesting principles!) in eukaryotes. We study fission yeast, mouse and human cells. Currently, our studies are concentrated in the following topics.
1)Identification of novel kinetochore factors that provide the difference between equational and reductional divisions.
2)Studies on the mechanisms which determine kinetochore orientation.
3)Studies on the molecular mechanisms to regulate spindle assembly in mouse oocytes.
4)Analysis of telomeres in mouse germ cells.
5)Analysis of the regulatory mechanisms of the function and localization of the kinetochore protein shugoshin.
6)Studies on the causual relationship between tumorigenesis and dysfunction of shugoshin in humans.


  1. The inner centromere-shugoshin network prevents chromosomal instability.
    Tanno Y, Susumu H, Kawamura M, Sugimura H, Honda T, Watanabe Y.
    Science. 2015 Sep 11;349(6253):1237-40. doi: 10.1126/science.aaa2655.
  2. Meikin is a conserved regulator of meiosis-I-specific kinetochore function.
    Kim J, Ishiguro K, Nambu A, Akiyoshi B, Yokobayashi S, Kagami A, Ishiguro T, Pendas AM, Takeda N, Sakakibara Y, Kitajima TS, Tanno Y, Sakuno T, Watanabe Y.
    Nature. 2015 Jan 22;517(7535):466-71. doi: 10.1038/nature14097.
  3. Condensin association with histone H2A shapes mitotic chromosomes.
    Tada K, Susumu H, Sakuno T, Watanabe Y.
    Nature. 2011 Jun 1;474(7352):477-83. doi: 10.1038/nature10179.
  4. Two histone marks establish the inner centromere and chromosome bi-orientation. Yamagishi Y, Honda T, Tanno Y, Watanabe Y.
    Science. 2010 Oct 8;330(6001):239-43. doi: 10.1126/science.1194498.
  5. Phosphorylation of the CPC by Cdk1 promotes chromosome bi-orientation.
    Tsukahara T, Tanno Y, Watanabe Y.
    Nature. 2010 Oct 7;467(7316):719-23. doi: 10.1038/nature09390.
  6. Phosphorylation of H2A by Bub1 prevents chromosomal instability through localizing shugoshin.
    Kawashima SA, Yamagishi Y, Honda T, Ishiguro K, Watanabe Y.
    Science. 2010 Jan 8;327(5962):172-7. doi: 10.1126/science.1180189.
  7. Kinetochore geometry defined by cohesion within the centromere.
    Sakuno T, Tada K, Watanabe Y.
    Nature. 2009 Apr 16;458(7240):852-8. doi: 10.1038/nature07876
  8.  Heterochromatin links to centromeric protection by recruiting shugoshin.
    Yamagishi Y, Sakuno T, Shimura M, Watanabe Y.
    Nature. 2008 Sep 11;455(7210):251-5. doi: 10.1038/nature07217.
  9. Shugoshin collaborates with protein phosphatase 2A to protect cohesin.
    Kitajima TS, Sakuno T, Ishiguro K, Iemura S, Natsume T, Kawashima SA, Watanabe Y.
    Nature. 2006 May 4;441(7089):46-52. doi:10.1038/nature04663
  10. The conserved kinetochore protein shugoshin protects centromeric cohesion during meiosis.
    Kitajima TS, Kawashima SA, Watanabe Y.
    Nature. 2004 Feb 5;427(6974):510-7. doi:10.1038/nature02312


  • Professor
    Yoshinori WATANABE
  • Associate Professor
    Takeshi SAKUNO