Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences, Kyoto University (iCeMS) iCeMS

Uesugi, Motonari PI Lab
Chemical Biology


Uesugi, Motonari Professor 上杉 志成
Sato, Shinichi Associate Professor
Takemoto, Yasushi Assistant Professor  
Asano, Risa Research Associate  
Katsuda, Yosuke Research Associate  
Takashima, Ippei Research Associate  
Takenoya, Mihoko Research Associate  
Furuta, Tomoyuki Commissioned Researcher  
Mao, Di Research Support Staff  
Qin, Ying Research Support Staff  
Nakashima, Mitsue Secretary  

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Research Overview

Chemical biology is an interdisciplinary field of study that is often defined as "chemistry-initiated biology." As biological processes all stem from chemical events, it should be possible to understand or manipulate biological events by using chemistry. Our laboratory has been discovering or designing unique organic molecules that modulate fundamental processes in human cells. Such synthetic organic molecules often serve as tools for basic cell biology and cell therapy. Our mission is to create new world of bioactive synthetic molecules: their new way to use, their new shapes, and their new sizes. We hope to open new avenues for small-molecule applications in a range of fields, including future concepts in drug discovery and use of small molecules for cell therapy.

Below are a few examples of projects in our research group.

  • Small-molecule tools for basic cell biology. Discovery or design of unique chemical probes that specifically control or detect biological process permits new approaches to exploring complex cellular events. Our main interests lie in modulation or detection of gene expression, cell interaction, and energy control.

  • Small molecule tools useful for cell therapy. One potential problem of cell therapy is high cost. Small molecules tools for cell therapy offer the advantage of cost-effective mass production. Thus, using small molecules in cell therapy will increase the affordability and accessibility of cell therapy worldwide. Most importantly, the use of stable and well-defined synthetic small molecules may compensate for the ill-defined cell therapy.
Uesugi Lab Reasearch Overview
Enlearge Image Uesugi Lab Reasearch Overview

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Selected Papers

  • Sato, S.*, Watanabe, M., Katsuda, Y., Murata, A., Wang, D. O., Uesugi M. Live-cell imaging of endogenous mRNAs with a small molecule. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 54, 1855-1858 (2015).
  • Frisco-Cabanos, H.L., Watanabe, M., Okumura, N., Kusamori, K., Takemoto, N., Takaya, J., Sato, S., Yamazoe, S., Takakura, Y., Kinoshita, S., Nishikawa, M., Koizumi, M., Uesugi, M. Synthetic molecules that protect cells from anoikis and their use in cell transplantation. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 53, 11208-11213 (2014).
  • Kuo, T.F., Mao, D., Hirata, N., Khambu, B., Kimura, Y., Kawase, E., Shimogawa, H., Ojika, M., Nakatsuji, N., Ueda, K., Uesugi, M. Selective elimination of human pluripotent stem cells by a marine natural product derivative. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 136 (28), 9798-9801 (2014).
  • Hirata, N., Nakagawa, M., Fujibayashi, Y., Yamauchi, K., Murata, A., Minami, I., Tomioka, M., Kondo, T., Kuo, T.F., Endo, H., Inoue, H., Sato, S., Ando, S., Kawazoe, Y., Aiba, K., Nagata, K., Kawase, E., Chang, Y.T., Suemori, H., Eto, K., Nakauchi, H., Yamanaka, S., Nakatsuji, N., Ueda, K., Uesugi, M. A chemical probe that labels human pluripotent stem cells. Cell Rep 6, 1165-1174 (2014).
  • Sakano, D., Shiraki, N., Kikawa, K., Yamazoe, T., Kataoka, M., Umeda, K., Araki, K., Mao, D., Matsumoto, S., Nakagata, N., Andersson, O., Stainier, D., Endo, F., Kume, K., Uesugi, M., Kume, S. VMAT2 identified as a regulator of late-stage beta cell differentiation. Nat. Chem. Biol. 10, 141-148 (2014).


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