Kentaro Furukawa, Principal research engineer

Research interest

My first project in the Hohmann lab was to investigate the role and regulation of the yeast aquaporin Aqy2. Water is the major component of all living organisms and hence the transport of water into and out of cells is a fundamental process of life. Aquaporins exist in all organisms from bacteria to mammals and are thought to play important roles in the control of water homeostasis and turgor. The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae possesses two aquaporins, Aqy1 and Aqy2. We reported that Aqy2 is involved in controlling cell surface properties and that its expression is controlled by osmoregulatory and morphogenic signalling pathways. Our observations relate to the proposed role of mammalian aquaporins in tumour cell migration and invasion. (Furukawa et al., 2009, Mol Microbiol) See also a short review article (in Japanese).

In certain yeast strains such as Sigma1278b, diploid cells develop pseudohyphae under nitrogen starvation, while haploid cells produce invasive filaments that penetrate the agar in rich medium. During the study of yeast aquaporin, we found that these morphological developments are strongly inhibited under hyper-osmotic condition through the high-osmolarity glycerol (HOG) response MAPK pathway. Fungal Hog1 orthologues are thought to be central negative regulators of many aspects of morphological developments and virulence, and studies on the underlying mechanisms are relevant for the identification of novel targets for antifungal therapy. We have recently developed an efficient method for construction of diploid strains using a galactose-inducible mating-type switch gene (PGAL1-HO) and a counter selection marker gene (PSTE18-URA3), and applied our method to the study of yeast morphological developments. (Furukawa et al., 2011, PLoS One)

In addition, I was involved in the CELLCOMPUT project (EC-funded FP6 project), which aims at generating cell communication systems that form building blocks for biological computation devices. This collaboration study has been published in Nature (Regot et al., 2011, News & Views). See also our press release. During this project, I got interested in synthetic biology. See our review article (Furukawa and Hohmann, 2013, Mol Microbiol) and short articles, Synthetic biology using yeast and Synthetic biology leading to health care (in Japanese). My current project is to elucidate properties of the yeast HOG pathway using synthetic biological approaches (specifically a signal rewiring approach). For this purpose, I am using heterologous sensor systems such as the histidine kinase DhNik1 and its constitutive active mutant. (Furukawa et al., 2012, FEBS Lett)

Publication list

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Education and Research experiences

Ph.D. in March 2005
Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Tohoku University, Japan (Prof. Tasuku Nakajima)
"Analysis of the high-osmolarity response MAPK pathway of the filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans"

April 2004-March 2006
Research fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Tohoku University, Prof. Keietsu Abe)

May 2006-October 2009
Postdoctoral fellow (University of Gothenburg, Prof. Stefan Hohmann)

November 2009-present
Principal research engineer (University of Gothenburg, Prof. Stefan Hohmann)


Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (2004-2006)

Stiftelsen Olle Engkvist Byggmästare (2012-2013)

Stiftelsen Olle Engkvist Byggmästare (2013-2014)


Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology/Microbiology
University of Gothenburg
Box 462, S-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden

For deliveries and couriers:
Medicinaregatan 9E
41390 Gothenburg
TEL: +46 31 786 2598
FAX: +46 31 786 2599

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