Kenji Sugioka

Assistant Professor

Our research focuses on the mechanisms of cell division control in the course of animal development. We use live-imaging, genetics, tissue engineering, and quantitative analysis to understand this process.

 Our life starts from a single-cell, fertilized egg, that divides to form 37.2 trillion cells consisting of our body. In the course of cell proliferation, timing and angle of cell division need to be orchestrated to shape tissues and organs. Although failures in the spatial-temporal cell division regulation are associated with various diseases such as cancer, microcephaly, and leukemia, our knowledge of the mechanism of cell division control is limited. Especially, how individual cell interprets environmental information and specifies cell division dynamics (cell cycle phase to change timing and force generation by motor proteins to change angle) are largely unknown in multicellular systems due to their complexity.

 To tackle this question, our lab studies multicellular division mechanisms using simple multicellular model C. elegans embryos. C. elegans has only 959 somatic cells yet is complex enough to develop different tissues and organs. Remarkably, they have invariant cell division dynamics among individuals, thereby allowing quantitative and single-cell level analysis of multicellular division. By taking advantage of its genetic and physical manipulatability, we will perform live-imaging, quantitative analysis, genetics, and in vitro reconstitution of simplified multicellular tissues, to investigate the following points that are critical to understand the mechanism of multicellular division.

  • Causal relationships between environmental cue and cell division outcomes
  • Molecular and physical mechanisms underlying the context-dependent control of cell division
  • Cell division coordination that orchestrates embryogenesis and organogenesis

 We will also extend our research to investigate mouse embryos to confirm our findings made in nematode and explore unified mechanisms that rule animal cell division.

Wnt regulates spindle asymmetry to generate asymmetric nuclear β-catenin in C. elegans
Cell 146(6): 942-54
Sugioka, K., Mizumoto, K., Sawa, H
The C. elegans kinesin-13/MCAK family member KLP-7 acts through kinetochores to limit spindle pole number during oocyte meiotic spindle assembly
Journal of Cell Biology 210(6): 917-932
Connolly, AA., Sugioka, K., Chuang, CH., Lowry, J., Bowerman, B
Centriolar SAS-7 acts upstream of SPD-2 to regulate centriole assembly and pericentriolar material formation
eLife Jan 16;6. doi: 10.7554/eLife.203
Sugioka, K., Hamill, DR., Lowry, J., McNeely, ME., Enrick, M., Murali, B., Parsons, LW., Priess, JR., Bowerman, B
Combinatorial contact cues specify cell division orientation by directing cortical myosin flows
Developmental Cell in press
Sugioka, K., Bowerman, B
Tumor suppressor APC is an attenuator of spindle-pulling forces during C. elegans asymmetric cell division
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 115(5): E954-E963
Sugioka, K., Fielmich, LE., Mizumoto, K., Bowerman, B., van den Huevel, S., Kimura, A., Sawa, H.