Researcher Information

CHIBA Yukako

Associate Professor

Plant survival strategy and RNA metabolism

Department of Biological Sciences, Cell Structure and Function


Molecular mechanism of plant stress responses and survival strategy approaching from RNA molecule

FieldPlant molecular biology
KeywordEnvironmental stresses, Regulation of mRNA decay, Translational regulation, Arabidopsis

Introduction of Research

Control of gene expression is exerted by multiple steps such as transcription, RNA processing and export, mRNA stability, translation and post-translational events. Recent discovery of small RNAs has enhanced the impact of post-transcriptional regulation, in particular alterations of mRNA stability and translation on gene regulations. Control of mRNA turnover is important not only for changing the level of mRNA, but also for determining the transition time of mRNA, which is critical for quick response to environmental changes. Translational regulation is also important to determine the functional protein level. The goal of our projects is to demonstrate the importance of mRNA turnover and translational controls in the regulating gene expression in response to stress conditions in plants. We are trying to understand the molecular mechanism of mRNA stability and translational controls in response to stress by using genetic and biochemical approaches.


Representative Achievements

Arae T. †, Isai S. †, (†co-first authors)Sakai A., Mineta K., Hirai Y. M., Suzuki Y., Kanaya S., Yamaguchi J., Naito S., *Chiba Y.: Co-ordinated regulations of mRNA synthesis and decay during cold acclimation in Arabidopsis cells. Plant Cell. Physiol. 58:1090-1102 (2017)
Suzuki Y., Arae T., Green P.J., Yamaguchi J., *Chiba Y. AtCCR4a and AtCCR4b are involved in determining the poly(A) length of Granule-bound starch synthase 1 transcript and modulating sucrose and starch metabolism in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Cell. Physiol., 56: 863-874, (2015)
*Chiba Y. and Green P.J.: mRNA degradation machinery in plants. J. Plant Biol., 52: 114-124 (2009).
Chiba Y., Sakurai R., Yoshino M., Ominato K., Ishikawa M., Onouchi H., *Naito S.: S-Adenosyl-L-methionine is an effector in the posttranscriptional autoregulation of the cystathionine -synthase gene in Arabidopsis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 100: 10225-10230 (2003).
Chiba Y., Ishikawa M., Kijima F., Tyson R.H., Kim J., Yamamoto A., Nambara E., Leustek T., Wallsgrove R.M. and *Naito S.: Evidence for autoregulation of cystathionine gamma-synthase mRNA stability in Arabidopsis. Science, 286: 1371-1374 (1999).
Academic degreePh.D
Academic background1997-2000: JSPS, Research Fellowships for Young Scientists (DC1)
2000: Ph.D. (Agricultural Chemistry), Hokkaido University
2000-2003: JSPS, Research Fellowships for Young Scientists (PD)
2003-2005: JSPS, Postdoctoral Fellowships for Research Abroad
2005-2006: Limited Termed Researcher, Delaware Biotech. Inst, University of Delaware Research Scientist, Crop Genetics Research & Development, DuPont
2006-2008: Research Associate, Research Institute for Bioresources, Okayama University
2008-2013: Assistant Professor, CRIS in Hokkaido University
2013-: Associate Professor, Faculty of Science, Hokkaido University
Room addressGeneral Research Building #5 5-702

Department of Biological Sciences, Cell Structure and Function

CHIBA Yukako

Associate Professor

What is your dream that you want to achieve through your research?

Research is a process to discover new knowledge. The goal of our research projects is to understand molecular mechanisms of regulating gene expression in response to various environmental changes in plants. Making hypotheses and testing them is the fundamental approach in research. Many things do not progress as expected, but sometimes yielding unexpected results, that is the best part of the research. Dreams I want to achieve through research are to answer the questions left in biology as well as to tell our students the difficulties and pleasures of research.

What do you do when the research gets stuck?

When things are not going well, I usually set a time limit and focus on the issue at hand. It takes much energy to take a difficult challenge; however, there will be a certain amount of trial and error before you achieve something in research. Even though you could not reach to the solution, you will learn something from the challenge. Meanwhile, changing of pace is also important in your usual life. I am recently hooked on Yoga for my refreshment.

What do you think of students going abroad for study?

I studied abroad as a postdoctoral fellow in a laboratory in the US for 5 years. Although there were more difficulties than imagined, it was a period that had a great impact on my ways of living and research. I could meet wonderful mentor and colleagues, and that relationship is still continuing. Not so many Japanese students want to study abroad recently. I strongly encourage the students to go overseas to study. The important thing is to have a clear purpose, which is what you want to accomplish there. If you have a clear vision, you will have tremendous positive impact on your life.