Fumio MOTEGI, Ph.D, Principal Investigator

Fumio Motegi obtained his university diploma at Tokyo University of Science and completed his Master’s study and doctoral degree at the University of Tokyo. He did his postdoctoral work with Prof. Asako Sugimoto at RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology and with Prof. Geraldine Seydoux at Johns Hopkins University. He joined Temasek Lifesciences Laboratory as a Principal Investigator in August 2012 and holds a joint appointment at the Mechanobiology Institute (MBI) as a Principal Investigator and an Assistant Professor at Department of Biological Sciences (DBS) at National University of Singapore.

You may wish to contact Dr Fumio MOTEGI at: Tel: (65) 6872 7004 or 6872 7489 (lab) Email: fmotegi@tll.org.sg

For information on PhD studies at TLL, click HERE

Research Interests

  1. Cell polarity
  2. Asymmetric cell division
  3. Germ-soma dichotomy

Cell polarity, establishment of cellular asymmetry, is necessary for diverse processes in living organisms, such as asymmetric cell divisions and morphogenesis. Dedicated polarity proteins generate and maintain cellular asymmetry, leading to establish functional architectures in many types of cells. Despite the conserved roles of polarity proteins, a fundamental question remains unanswered: How do developmental cues break cellular symmetry along the body axes?

Our group is interested in understanding the mechanisms of 1) initiation of cell polarization and 2) spatial patterning of cellular asymmetry. A simple model system, C. elegans zygote, provides the unique opportunity to explore such initial procedures in cell polarization, as the zygotes do not rely on pre-localized proteins/RNAs or extrinsic cues to trigger asymmetry but instead undergo “de novo” polarization (Movie 1). By taking multi-disciplinary approach with genetics, biochemistry, and modern imaging technology, our group aims at

  1. Defining the nature of the cue that initiates polarization
  2. Understanding how cellular asymmetry is patterned for faithful asymmetric cell division

These views will delve into the basic principles of cell polarization and yield insights into how a developing embryo commits to somatic or germline cell fates with precision and accuracy. The molecular similarity in C. elegans to that in other systems make it very likely that this project will greatly highlight conserved mechanisms and lead to insights into asymmetric divisions in stem cells, prevention of cancer, and tissue regeneration.

- Aim 1: Defining the nature of the cue that initiates cell polarization

- Aim 2: Assessing the mechanism of spatial patterning of cellular asymmetry

- Aim 3: Understanding the role of polarity kinases in germ-soma dichotomy

Movie 1: Breaking symmetry of cellular cortical polarity

Symmetry breaking is the process by which cellular uniformity is broken to generate asymmetry in space. The cue that triggers symmetry breaking leads to a modulation of cell cortex to generate two distinct domains. The C. elegans zygote becomes polarized after fertilization by generating distinct anterior and posterior domains: the anterior domain contains a complex of PAR-3, PAR-6, and atypical protein kinase C/aPKC (shown in magenta), and the posterior domain includes PAR-1 kinase and the RING protein PAR-2 (shown in green). Segregation of two sets of PAR proteins is critical for decision whether to become somatic cells or germ cells.