Researcher Information

KIMURA Atsushi


Functional genomics in mammalian reproduction

Department of Biological Sciences, Reproductive and Developmental Biology


My goal is to understand the genome function in mammalian reproduction. Currently, I am focusing on transcriptional regulation by multi-functional genome sequences and long noncoding RNAs during spermatogenesis.

Fieldgenome biology, reproductive biology
Keywordspermatogenesis, transcriptional regulation, long noncoding RNA, epigenetics, multifunctional genome, enhancer, protease, ovary, granulosa cell, testis, placenta, mouse, human

Introduction of Research

In mammalian genome, only 2% are protein-coding sequences (exons), and the function of rest of the sequence (98%) is unclear. I am studying the function of these 98% sequences in reproduction. Reproduction is the process by which offsprings are produced, and I am interested in gametogenesis, especially in male spermatogenesis.
A key step for spermatogenesis is meiosis in which spermatogonia differentiate into spermatids. It is well known that so many genes are transcriptionally activated during meiosis and the gene activation is critical to spermatogenesis. However, the molecular mechanism of transcriptional activation in meiosis is unclear, and therefore, I am studying it through revealing the function of genome sequences. I already found two important elements or factors for this gene activation. One is dual promoter-enhancers that are multi-functional genomic sequences, and the other is long noncoding RNAs that are RNA molecules functioning without being translated. I will continue to study their detailed molecular mechanisms, and ultimately reveal the mechanism of spermatogenesis and the mammalian genome function in reproduction.


Representative Achievements

Otsuka K., Matsubara S., Shiraishi A., Takei N., Satoh Y., Terao M., Takada S., Kotani T., Satake H., and Kimura A.P. (2021) A testis-specific long noncoding RNA, Start, is a regulator of steroidogenesis in mouse Leydig cells. Front. Endocrinol. 12: 665874.
Satoh Y., Takei N., Kawamura S., Takahashi N., Kotani T., and Kimura A.P. (2019) A novel testis-specific long noncoding RNA, Tesra, activates the Prss42/Tessp-2 gene during mouse spermatogenesis. Biol. Reprod.100: 833-848.
Kimura A.P., Yoneda R., Kurihara M., Mayama S., and Matsubara S. (2017) A long noncoding RNA, lncRNA-Amhr2, plays a role in Amhr2 gene activation in mouse ovarian granulosa cells. Endocrinology 158: 4105-4121.
Yoneda R.*, Satoh Y.*, Yoshida I., Kawamura S., Kotani T., and Kimura A.P. (2016) A genomic region transcribed into a long noncoding RNA interacts with the Prss42/Tessp-2 promoter in spermatocytes during mouse spermatogenesis, and its flanking sequences can function as enhancers. Mol. Reprod. Dev. 83: 541-557. (*equally contributed) (Featuring the cover image)
Kurihara M., Shiraishi A., Satake H., and Kimura A.P. (2014) A conserved noncoding sequence can function as a spermatocyte-specific enhancer and a bidirectional promoter for a ubiquitously expressed gene and a testis-specific long noncoding RNA. J. Mol. Biol. 426: 3069-3093.
Academic degreePh.D
Academic background2001 PhD at Hokkaido University
2001-2005 Postdoctoral researcher at University of Pennsylvania
2005-2022 Associate professor at Hokkaido University
2022-present Professor at Hokkaido University
Affiliated academic societyThe Molecular Biology Society of Japan, The Japan Society for Comparative Endocrinology, The Zoological Society of Japan, The Japanese Society for Epigenetics, Society for the Study of Reproduction, The Endocrine Society
Room addressGeneral Research Building 5 5-1009