By analyzing RNAs that have been believed as "non-coding", we will identify novel proteins that have been overlooked. In this way, we expect to reveal molecular mechanisms of biological phenomena that have not been well explained so far.


Small Proteins

For a long time, it was thought that only the longest open reading frame (ORF) in messenger RNA, the coding sequence (CDS), was translated into protein. However, it has been suggested that a myriad of small ORFs (unannotated ORFs: uaORFs) may also be translated to produce small proteins. We aim to identify and elucidate the roles of such small proteins by using molecular biology and biochemical techniques.


New proteins and evolution

The CDS is highly conserved among species and encodes many molecules that are involved in the universality of life phenomena. On the other hand, non-CDS regions are relatively less conserved among species and humans. We hypothesize that functional RNAs, and uaORFs which are abundant in the non-CDS regions, are responsible for the identity of species and differences among humans. We will test this hypothesis using non-human primate iPS cells and aim to make new discoveries about the identity of species.


Functional RNA regulation

Human pluripotent stem cells express a variety of functional RNAs, including specific types of endogenous retroviruses. We are interested in how these are regulated and involved in differentiation pluripotency. We will address this question by focusing on the mechanism of selective RNA degradation.