Professor Naoki Itano

Area and Subject Taught Aging Biology
Research Theme(s) Development of Innovative Technologies for Healthy Longevity
Academic Degrees Ph.D. (Kyoto University)
Keywords for Research Field Anti-aging, Hyaluronan, Cancer
Office Phone Number 81-75-705-3064
e-mail

Research Overview

We here in Japan are facing a multitude of problems caused by the rapid growth of what has been termed the “super-aged society”. The aims of our research are to improve the morbidities that are characteristic of age progression and to establish innovative technologies that can ensure a comfortable quality of life (QOL) for elderly. To this end, our laboratory has been pursuing the following research programs.

  1. 1. Elucidation of the Biosynthetic Process of Hyaluronan and its Application to Anti-aging Technologies
    There are an increasing number of bedridden elderly people in Japan with a loss of joint function due to conditions like osteoarthritis. Hyaluronan (HA) acts as a cushion and lubricant in articulating joints. Our laboratory has succeeded in establishing an in vitro reconstitution system using a recombinant HA synthase protein and developed a screening system for compounds that have the enzyme activation potential. Our future challenge is therefore to understand the entire mechanism of HA biosynthesis and apply this knowledge to developing innovative anti-aging technologies.
  2. Establishment of Therapies Targeting Cancer Stem Cell Niches
    Cancer has become the leading cause of death in our country due to increased longevity, and as such the eradication of cancer has become a social mission. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) have recently been reported to exist in many malignancies and have attracted remarkable attention because they are believed to be the only cells capable of initiating cancer growth. CSCs, like normal stem cells, reside and maintain their stemness within a specialized microenvironment called a stem cell niche. Thus, strategies to limit their stemness and malignant transformation must focus on the importance of targeting this CSC niche. The main purpose of our research in this domain is to identify the cellular and molecular cues that govern the formation of the specialized CSC niche microenvironment and establish novel therapies to induce a state of cancer dormancy by controlling the niche.

Notable Publications and Works in the Last Three Years

  1. Chanmee, T., Ontong, P., Izumikawa, T., Higashide, M., Mochizuki, N., Chokchaitaweesuk, C., Khansai, M., Nakajima, K., Kakizaki, I., Kongtawelert, P., Taniguchi, N., Itano, N. Hyaluronan production regulates metabolic and cancer stem-like properties of breast cancer cells via hexosamine biosynthetic pathway-coupled HIF-1 signaling. J Biol Chem. 291(46):24105-24120. 2016.
  2. Chanmee T, Ontong P, *Itano N. Hyaluronan: A modulator of the tumor microenvironment. Cancer Lett. 375(1):20-30. 2016
  3. hanmee T, Ontong P, Kimata K, *Itano N. Key roles of hyaluronan and its CD44 receptor in the stemness and survival of cancer stem cells. Front Oncol. 10;5:180. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2015.00180. eCollection 2015.
  4. Chanmee, T., Ontong, P., Mochizuki, N., Kongtawelert, P., Konno, K., and Itano N. Excessive Hyaluronan Production Promotes Acquisition of Cancer Stem Cell Signatures Through the Coordinated Regulation of Twist and the TGF-β-Snail Signaling Axis. J. Biol. Chem. 289(38):26038-26056 (2014)
  5. Chanmee, T., Ontong, P., Konno, K., and Itano N. Tumor-associated macrophages as major players in the tumor microenvironment. Cancers 6(3):1670-1690 (2014)
  6. Arranz, A.M., Perkins, K.L., Irie, F., Lewis, D.P., Hrabe, J., Xiao, F., Itano N., Kimata, K., Hrabetova, S., and Yamaguchi, Y. Hyaluronan deficiency due to Has3 knock-out causes altered neuronal activity and seizures via reduction in brain extracellular space. J. Neurosci. 34(18):6164-6176 (2014)
  7. Konno, K., Shiotani, Y., Itano N., Ogawa, T., Hatakeyama, M., Shioya, K., Kasai, N. Visible, safe and certain endotracheal intubation using endoscope system and inhalation anesthesia for rats. J. Vet. Med. Sci. 76(10):1375-1381 (2014).
  8. Konno, K., Itano N., Ogawa, T., Hatakeyama, M., Shioya, K., and Kasai, N. New visible endotracheal intubation method using the endoscope system for mice inhalational anesthesia. J. Vet. Med. Sci. 76(6):863-868 (2014)
  9. Ontong, P., Hatada, Y., Taniguchi, S., Kakizaki, I., and Itano, N. Effect of a cholesterol-rich lipid environment on the enzymatic activity of reconstituted hyaluronan synthase. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 443: 666-671 (2014)