Sea-level rise is a major effect of climate change. It has drawn international attention, because higher sea levels in the future would cause serious impacts in various parts of the world. There are questions associated with sea-level rise which science needs to answer. To what extent did climate change contribute to sea-level rise in the past? How much will global mean sea level increase in the future? How serious are the impacts of the anticipated sea-level rise likely to be, and can human society respond to them? This paper aims to answer these questions through a comprehensive review of the relevant literature. First, the present status of observed sea-level rise, analyses of its causes, and future projections are summarized. Then the impacts are examined along with other consequences of climate change, from both global and Japanese perspectives. Finally, responses to adverse impacts will be discussed in order to clarify the implications of the sea-level rise issue for human society.
sea-level rise; climate change; ice sheet melting; future projections; coastal impacts; adaptation
Through glycosphingolipid biochemical research, we developed two types of transcription technologies. One is a biochemical transfer of glycosphingolipids to peptides. The other is a physicochemical transfer of glycosphingolipids in silica gel to the surface of a plastic membrane. Using the first technology, we could prepare peptides which mimic the shapes of glycosphingolipid molecules by biopanning with a phage-displayed peptide library and anti-glycosphingolipid antibodies as templates. The peptides thus obtained showed biological properties and functions similar to those of the original glycosphingolipids, such as lectin binding, glycosidase modulation, inhibition of tumor metastasis and immune response against the original antigen glycosphingolipid, and we named them glyco-replica peptides. The results showed that the newly prepared peptides could be used effectively as a bio-recognition system and suggest that the glyco-replica peptides can be widely applied to therapeutic fields. Using the second technology, we could establish a functional lipidomics with a thin-layer chromatography-blot/matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry (TLC-Blot/MALDI-TOF MS) system. By transferring glycosphingolipids on a plastic membrane surface from a TLC plate, innovative biochemical approaches such as simple purification of individual glycosphingolipids, binding studies, and enzyme reactions could be developed. The combinations of these biochemical approaches and MALDI-TOF MS on the plastic membrane could provide new strategies for glycosphingolipid science and the field of lipidomics. In this review, typical applications of these two transfer technologies are introduced.
glycosphingolipid; gangliosides; TLC-Blot/MALDI-TOF MS; phage-displayed peptide library; glycolipidomics; molecular mimicry
The conversion of what has been interpreted as “normal brain aging” to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) via transition states, i.e., preclinical AD and mild cognitive impairment, appears to be a continuous process caused primarily by aging-dependent accumulation of amyloid β peptide (Aβ) in the brain. This notion however gives us a hope that, by manipulating the Aβ levels in the brain, we may be able not only to prevent and cure the disease but also to partially control some very significant aspects of brain aging. Aβ is constantly produced from its precursor and immediately catabolized under normal conditions, whereas dysmetabolism of Aβ seems to lead to pathological deposition upon aging. We have focused our attention on elucidation of the unresolved mechanism of Aβ catabolism in the brain. In this review, I describe a new approach to prevent AD development by reducing Aβ burdens in aging brains through up-regulation of the catabolic mechanism involving neprilysin that can degrade both monomeric and oligomeric forms of Aβ. The strategy of combining presymptomatic diagnosis with preventive medicine seems to be the most pragmatic in both medical and socioeconomical terms.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD); mild cognitive impairment (MCI); preclinical AD; amyloid β peptide (Aβ); metabolism; neprilysin; secretase
Using ovariectomized rats as a model of postmenopausal women, we studied the effects of estrogen (Es) deficiency and in combination with cadmium (Cd) exposure on the calcified hard tissues related to the development of itai-itai disease. Es deficiency suppressed the synthesis of carbonic anhydrase required for the crystal nucleation process, causing the crystal structure defects in the tooth enamel. Regarding the combined effects of Es deficiency and Cd exposure on the bone, in which rats were given drinking water containing Cd ions, soft X-ray radiography revealed a development of labyrinthine pattern in the calvaria, and micro-computed tomography demonstrated the declining trabecular architecture of the tibia, suggesting Cd–induced osteoporotic change. Further, electron microscopy showed the increase of amorphous minerals in the calvaria. In conclusion, the combined effects of Es deficiency and Cd exposure can be responsible for accelerating the declining bone strength together with the crystal structure defects resulting in the preferential occurrence of itai-itai disease in postmenopausal women.
estrogen deficiency; cadmium exposure; soft X-ray radiography; micro-computed tomography; electron microscopy; itai-itai disease
A group of enzymes, mostly hydrolases or certain transferases, utilize one or a few side-chain carboxyl groups of Asp and/or Glu as part of the catalytic machinery at their active sites. This review follows mainly the trail of studies performed by the author and his colleagues on the structure and function of such enzymes, starting from ribonuclease T1, then extending to three major types of carboxyl peptidases including aspartic peptidases, glutamic peptidases and serine-carboxyl peptidases.
ribonuclease (RNase) T1; pepsin; nepenthesin; aspergilloglutamic peptidase; physarolisins I and II
The convulsions of the EL mouse (EL) were described by Imaizumi et al. in 1954 and were established as epilepsy by Suzuki in 1976. The EL mouse has been kept as an inbred strain and is considered one of the best animal models originated in Japan. The mode of inheritance is autosomal dominant, and environmental risk factors for seizure occurrence are hypothesised to contribute to the polygenic background. Paroxysmal activities in the EL brain arise from the parietal cortex (PCX) and are augmented in the hippocampus, demonstrated by electrophysiology and autoradiography using 2-deoxy glucose when clinical symptoms of seizures appeared. The neurons in the EL PCX, where GABA activity is lower than that of DDY PCX demonstrate increased excitability to proprioceptive sensory input. After repetitive seizure-provoking stimuli, seizures are more easily induced, eventually occurring spontaneously. This phenomenon of “abnormal plasticity” is also observed in the EEG, decreasing GABA activity, expression of the immediately early gene, and various biochemical and molecular processes. This phenomenon is similar to the learning or progressive process of certain neurological diseases.
EL mouse; epilepsy; parietal cortex; GABA; neuronal firing; abnormal plasticity
Muscarinic acetylcholine receptors, which comprise five subtypes (M1-M5 receptors), are expressed in both the CNS and PNS (particularly the target organs of parasympathetic neurons). M1-M5 receptors are integral membrane proteins with seven transmembrane segments, bind with acetylcholine (ACh) in the extracellular phase, and thereafter interact with and activate GTP-binding regulatory proteins (G proteins) in the intracellular phase: M1, M3, and M5 receptors interact with Gq-type G proteins, and M2 and M4 receptors with Gi/Go-type G proteins. Activated G proteins initiate a number of intracellular signal transduction systems. Agonist-bound muscarinic receptors are phosphorylated by G protein-coupled receptor kinases, which initiate their desensitization through uncoupling from G proteins, receptor internalization, and receptor breakdown (down regulation). Recently the crystal structures of M2 and M3 receptors were determined and are expected to contribute to the development of drugs targeted to muscarinic receptors. This paper summarizes the molecular properties of muscarinic receptors with reference to the historical background and bias to studies performed in our laboratories.
acetylcholine; muscarinic receptor; G protein; G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR); G protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 (GRK2); crystal structure
The research program of my laboratory included three major topics: the structures and immunology of human carbohydrate blood group and glycosphingolipid antigens; the tissue distribution, subcellular localization and biosynthesis of glycosphingolipids; and the structural basis of the binding of carbohydrates by antibodies and lectins.
glycosphingolipids; immunochemistry; cellular localization; biosynthesis
Plants produce a variety of secondary metabolites that possess strong physiological activities. Unfortunately, however, their production can suffer from a variety of serious problems, including low levels of productivity and heterogeneous quality, as well as difficulty in raw material supply. In contrast, microorganisms can be used to produce their primary and some of their secondary metabolites in a controlled environment, thus assuring high levels of efficiency and uniform quality. In an attempt to overcome the problems associated with secondary metabolite production in plants, we developed a microbial platform for the production of plant isoquinoline alkaloids involving the unification of the microbial and plant metabolic pathways into a single system. The potential applications of this system have also been discussed.
aromatic amino acid metabolism; isoquinoline alkaloid biosynthesis; metabolic engineering; microbial production
Cerebellar long-term depression (LTD) is a type of synaptic plasticity and has been considered as a critical cellular mechanism for motor learning. LTD occurs at excitatory synapses between parallel fibers and a Purkinje cell in the cerebellar cortex, and is expressed as reduced responsiveness to transmitter glutamate. Molecular induction mechanism of LTD has been intensively studied using culture and slice preparations, which has revealed critical roles of Ca2+, protein kinase C and endocytosis of AMPA-type glutamate receptors. Involvement of a large number of additional molecules has also been demonstrated, and their interactions relevant to LTD mechanisms have been studied. In vivo experiments including those on mutant mice, have reported good correlation of LTD and motor learning. However, motor learning could occur with impaired LTD. A possibility that cerebellar synaptic plasticity other than LTD compensates for the defective LTD has been proposed.
cerebellum; long-term depression; synaptic plasticity; motor learning; Purkinje cell
The first objective data showing the geographical locations of people in Fukushima after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant accident, obtained by an analysis of GPS (Global Positioning System)-enabled mobile phone logs, are presented. The method of estimation is explained, and the flow of people into and out of the 20 km evacuation zone during the accident is visualized.
Fukushima Dai-ichi NPP accident; evacuation; reconstruction of early internal dose
Sulfation confers negative charge on glycolipids and the attached sulfate group presents a part of determinants for the molecular interactions. Mammalian sulfoglycolipids are comprised of two major members, sulfatide (SO3-3Gal-ceramide) and seminolipid (SO3-3Gal-alkylacylglycerol). Sulfatide is abundant in the myelin sheath and seminolipid is unique to the spermatogenic cells. The carbohydrate moiety of sulfatide and seminolipid is biosynthesized via sequential reactions catalyzed by common enzymes: ceramide galactosyltransferase (CGT) and cerebroside sulfotransferase (CST). To elucidate the biological function of sulfoglycolipids, we have purified CST, cloned the CST gene, and generated CST-knockout mice. CST-null mice completely lack sulfoglycolipids all over the body. CST-null mice manifest some neurological disorders due to myelin dysfunction, an aberrant enhancement of oligodendrocyte terminal differentiation, and an arrest of spermatogenesis. CST-deficiency ameliorates L-selectin-dependent monocyte infiltration in the renal interstitial inflammation, indicating that sulfatide is an endogenous ligand of L-selectin. Studies on the molecular mechanisms underlying the biological events for which sulfoglycolipids are essential are ongoing.
cerebroside sulfotransferase (CST); L-selectin; myelin; seminolipid; spermatogenesis; sulfatide
Signal transmission through synapses connecting two neurons is mediated by release of neurotransmitter from the presynaptic axon terminals and activation of its receptor at the postsynaptic neurons. γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), non-protein amino acid formed by decarboxylation of glutamic acid, is a principal neurotransmitter at inhibitory synapses of vertebrate and invertebrate nervous system. On one hand glutamic acid serves as a principal excitatory neurotransmitter. This article reviews GABA researches on; (1) synaptic inhibition by membrane hyperpolarization, (2) exclusive localization in inhibitory neurons, (3) release from inhibitory neurons, (4) excitatory action at developmental stage, (5) phenotype of GABA-deficient mouse produced by gene-targeting, (6) developmental adjustment of neural network and (7) neurological/psychiatric disorder. In the end, GABA functions in simple nervous system and plants, and non-amino acid neurotransmitters were supplemented.
neurotransmitter; GABA; gene targeting; brain development; mental disorders
The Fukushima Dai-ichi NPP accident contaminated the soil of densely-populated regions in Fukushima Prefecture with radioactive cesium, which poses significant risks of internal and external exposure to the residents. If we apply the knowledge of post-Chernobyl accident studies, internal exposures in excess of a few mSv/y would be expected to be frequent in Fukushima.
Extensive whole-body-counter surveys (n = 32,811) carried out at the Hirata Central Hospital between October, 2011 and November, 2012, however show that the internal exposure levels of residents are much lower than estimated. In particular, the first sampling-bias-free assessment of the internal exposure of children in the town of Miharu, Fukushima, shows that the 137Cs body burdens of all children (n = 1,383, ages 6–15, covering 95% of children enrolled in town-operated schools) were below the detection limit of 300 Bq/body in the fall of 2012. These results are not conclusive for the prefecture as a whole, but are consistent with results obtained from other municipalities in the prefecture, and with prefectural data.
Fukushima Dai-ichi NPP accident; radioactive cesium; whole-body counting; committed effective dose
Many glycosidases, which work as useful reagents for the studies of structures and functions of free and conjugated oligosaccharides, have been found and thoroughly purified. These enzymes are classified into exo- and endoglycosidases by their glycon specificities. Their usefulness and limits as reagents are explained in detail in this review.
Endoglycosidases, which were originally found in the culture fluid of bacteria and in the extracts of plants, are now widely found in the mammals including humans. The physiological roles of these enzymes are discussed in relation to the oligosaccharides accumulated in the urine of patients with exoglycosidase deficiencies. Furthermore, PNGase is found to play important roles in the ER-associated degradation pathway of glycoproteins.
Recent studies of the glycosidases in Bifidobacteria have revealed that GNB/LNB pathway, which uniquely exist in this bacteria, works for the expression of Bifidus factor activity of human milk oligosaccharides, an important topic in the baby nutrition. This interesting field will be introduced in detail in one section of this article.
aglycon specificity; Bifidus factor; glycon specificity; glycosidase-deficiencies; GNB/LNB pathway; human milk oligosaccharides
Loss of terminally differentiated cardiomyocytes due to heart disease is irreversible and current therapeutic regimes are limited. Cell therapy using stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes is an attractive option to repair injured hearts. The discovery of direct reprogramming of fibroblasts into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and successful differentiation of iPSCs into cardiomyocytes provided a revolutionary paradigm in heart regenerative research. During the past decades, significant advances in stem cell culture, differentiation and purification protocols, as well as in cell transplantation methodologies, have been achieved. On the other hand, recent studies demonstrated that a somatic cell could be converted into an alternative differentiated cell type without first becoming a stem cell by overexpression of lineage-specific factors. We found that functional cardiomyocytes can be directly induced from fibroblasts by a combination of three cardiac transcription factors, Gata4, Mef2c and Tbx5, in vitro and in vivo. I will review the perspectives of heart regeneration using reprogramming technology.
heart; heart regeneration; iPS cell; induced cardiomyocyte; reprogramming
The solar wind, a supersonic plasma flow continuously emanating from the Sun, governs the space environment in a vast region extending to the boundary of the heliosphere (∼100 AU). Precise understanding of the solar wind is of importance not only because it will satisfy scientific interest in an enigmatic astrophysical phenomenon, but because it has broad impacts on relevant fields. Interplanetary scintillation (IPS) of compact radio sources at meter to centimeter wavelengths serves as a useful ground-based method for investigating the solar wind. IPS measurements of the solar wind at a frequency of 327 MHz have been carried out regularly since the 1980s using the multi-station system of the Solar-Terrestrial Environment Laboratory (STEL) of Nagoya University. This paper reviews new aspects of the solar wind revealed from our IPS observations.
the Sun; solar wind; interplanetary scintillation; heliosphere
The author has been actively engaged in research on nanomagnetic materials for about 50 years. Nanomagnetic materials are comprised of ferromagnetic systems for which the size and shape are controlled on a nanometer scale. Typical examples are ultrafine particles, ultrathin films, multilayered films and nano-patterned films. In this article, the following four areas of the author’s studies are described.
(1) Mössbauer spectroscopic studies of nanomagnetic materials and interface magnetism.
(2) Preparation and characterization of metallic multilayers with artificial superstructures.
(3) Giant magnetoresistance (GMR) effect in magnetic multilayers.
(4) Novel properties of nanostructured ferromagnetic thin films (dots and wires).
A subject of particular interest in the author’s research was the artificially prepared multilayers consisting of metallic elements. The motivation to initiate the multilayer investigation is described and the physical properties observed in the artificial multilayers are introduced. The author’s research was initially in the field of pure physical science and gradually extended into applied science. His achievements are highly regarded not only from the fundamental point of view but also from the technological viewpoint.
Mössbauer spectroscopy; interface magnetism; artificial multilayers with superstructures; non-coupled type GMR (giant magnetoresistance); magnetic vortex cores; domain walls in nanomagnetic wires
Polyatomic molecules have several electronic states that have similar energies. Consequently, their chemical dynamics often involve nonadiabatic transitions between multiple potential energy surfaces. Elucidating the complex reactions of polyatomic molecules is one of the most important tasks of theoretical and experimental studies of chemical dynamics. This paper describes our recent experimental studies of the multidimensional multisurface dynamics of polyatomic molecules based on two-dimensional ion/electron imaging. It also discusses ultrafast photoelectron spectroscopy of liquids for elucidating nonadiabatic electronic dynamics in aqueous solutions.
molecular beam; chemical reaction; nonadiabatic transition; imaging; scattering; photoelectron spectroscopy
Hydrogenases are microbial enzymes which catalyze uptake and production of H2. Hydrogenases are classified into 10 classes based on the electron carrier specificity, or into 3 families, [NiFe]-family (including [NiFeSe]-subfamily), [FeFe]-family and [Fe]-family, based on the metal composition of the active site. H2 is heterolytically cleaved on the enzyme (E) to produce EHaHb, where Ha and Hb have different rate constants for exchange with the medium hydron. X-ray crystallography unveiled the three-dimensional structures of hydrogenases. The simplest [NiFe]-hydrogenase is a heterodimer, in which the large subunit bears the Ni-Fe center buried deep in the protein, and the small subunit bears iron-sulfur clusters, which mediate electron transfer between the Ni-Fe center and the protein surface. Some hydrogenases have additional subunit(s) for interaction with their electron carriers. Various redox states of the enzyme were characterized by EPR, FTIR, etc. Based on the kinetic, structural and spectroscopic studies, the catalytic mechanism of [NiFe]-hydrogenase was proposed to explain H2-uptake, H2-production and isotopic exchange reactions.
hydrogenase; Ni-Fe center; cytochrome c3; isotope exchange; X-ray crystallography; catalytic cycle
In this paper, a systematic, overall view of theories for periodic waves of permanent form, such as Stokes and cnoidal waves, is described first with their validity ranges. To deal with random waves, a method for estimating directional spectra is given. Then, various wave equations are introduced according to the assumptions included in their derivations. The mild-slope equation is derived for combined refraction and diffraction of linear periodic waves. Various parabolic approximations and time-dependent forms are proposed to include randomness and nonlinearity of waves as well as to simplify numerical calculation. Boussinesq equations are the equations developed for calculating nonlinear wave transformations in shallow water. Nonlinear mild-slope equations are derived as a set of wave equations to predict transformation of nonlinear random waves in the nearshore region. Finally, wave equations are classified systematically for a clear theoretical understanding and appropriate selection for specific applications.
Stokes waves; cnoidal waves; directional spectrum; mild-slope equation; diffraction; refraction
We investigate the shear response of possible slip systems activated in pure and Fe-bearing MgSiO3 post-perovskite (PPv) through ab initio generalized stacking fault (GSF) energy calculations. Here we show that the (001) slip system has the easiest response to plastic shear among ten possible slip systems investigated. Incorporation of Fe2+ decreases the strength of all slip systems but does not change the plastic anisotropy style. Therefore, pure and Fe-bearing MgSiO3 PPv should demonstrate similar LPO patterns with a strong signature of the (001) slip system. An aggregate with this deformation texture is expected to produce a VSH > VSV type polarization anisotropy, being consistent with seismological observations.
ab initio density functional computation; generalized stacking fault theory; seismic anisotropy; earth’s D'' layer; post-perovskite
Accumulating evidence indicates that ERK MAP kinase signaling plays an important role in the regulation of the circadian clock, especially in the clock-resetting mechanism in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in mammals. Previous studies have also shown that ERK phosphorylation exhibits diurnal variation in the SCN. However, little is known about circadian regulation of ERK signaling in peripheral tissues. Here we show that the activity of Ras/ERK signaling exhibits circadian rhythms in mouse liver. We demonstrate that Ras activation, MEK phosphorylation, and ERK phosphorylation oscillate in a circadian manner. As the oscillation of ERK phosphorylation is lost in Cry1/Cry2 double-knockout mice, Ras/ERK signaling should be under the control of the circadian clock. Furthermore, expression of MAP kinase phosphatase-1 (Mkp-1) shows diurnal changes in liver. These results indicate that Ras/ERK signaling is strictly regulated by the circadian clock in liver, and suggest that the circadian oscillation of the activities of Ras, MEK, and ERK may regulate diurnal variation of liver function and/or homeostasis.
circadian rhythms; ERK; Ras; phosphorylation; liver
Self-incompatibility (SI) is defined as the inability to produce zygotes after self-pollination in a fertile hermaphrodite plant, which has stamens and pistils in the same flower. This structural organization of the hermaphrodite flower increases the risk of self-pollination, leading to low genetic diversity. To avoid this problem plants have established several pollination systems, among which the most elegant system is surely SI. The SI trait can be observed in Brassica crops, including cabbage, broccoli, turnip and radish. To produce hybrid seed of these crops efficiently, the SI trait has been employed in an agricultural context. From another point of view, the recognition reaction of SI during pollen-stigma interaction is an excellent model system for cell-cell communication and signal transduction in higher plants. In this review, we describe the molecular mechanisms of SI in Brassicaceae, which have been dissected by genetic, physiological, and biological approaches, and we discuss the future prospects in relation to associated scientific fields and new technologies.
Brassicaceae; cell-cell communication; pollen-stigma interaction; self-incompatibility; signal transduction
By using “our devised up-to-the-second technique” over 30 years ago, we succeeded in the first isolation in the world of the three different kinds of mammalian cell mutants defective in the biosynthesis on each of phosphatidylserine (PS), cardiolipin (CL) and sphingomyelin (SM) from the parental CHO cells. As the results, we found that during the biosyntheses of PS and SM, the biosynthetic precursor or the final lipids are transported from their synthesized intracellular organelles to the plasma membranes via the other intracellular organelles. We further clarified the presence of the reversed routes for PS and SM from the plasma membranes to their synthesized organelles too. Our first epoch-making finding is not only the cycling inter-conversion reactions between PS and PE catalyzed by PSS-II and PSD but also their simultaneous transferring between MAM and Mit (found by O. Kuge). Our second finding is “the ceramide-trafficking protein (CERT)” working as the specific transfer protein of ceramide from the ER to the Golgi apparatus, during the SM biosynthesis (by K. Hanada).
As for their new biological roles, we clarified possible contribution of PS and/or PE to the fusion process between viral envelope and endosomal membrane, releasing the genetic information of the virus to the host cytoplasm. CL is contributing to the functional NADH-ubiquinone reductase activity by keeping the right structure of Coenzyme Q9 for its functioning. SM and cholesterol form the microdomain within the plasma membrane, so-called “the raft structure” where the GPI-anchored proteins are specifically located for their functioning.
membrane phospholipids (PS, CL and SM); mammalian cell mutants; biosynthetic regulation; biological roles; lipid transport; intracellular organelles