Kyushu University Academic Staff Educational and Research Activities Database
Researcher information (To researchers) Need Help? How to update
Yasuhiro Imafuku Last modified date:2019.11.29

Assistant Professor / Integrative Biology
Department of Biology
Faculty of Sciences

Graduate School
Undergraduate School

Academic Degree
Country of degree conferring institution (Overseas)
Field of Specialization
Total Priod of education and research career in the foreign country
Research Interests
  • Study of short term synaptic plasticity
    keyword : Neurobiology
    2014.04Biophysical study on molecular motor proteins.
  • Biophysical study on molecular motor proteins
    keyword : molecular motor
    1998.09Biophysical study on molecular motor proteins.
  • Study of Long Term Potentiation/Depression using Hippocampus Slice
    keyword : Neurobiology
    2011.04Biophysical study on molecular motor proteins.
Academic Activities
1. Toshio Ichikawa, Yasuhiro Imafuku & Katsuhisa Tawada, Synchronous firing patterns of a set of insect neurosecretory cells, NEUROSCI LETT 264 (1-3): 85-88 APR 2 1999, 10.1016/S0304-3940(99)00164-0, 264, 1-3, 85-88, 1999.04.
2. Neil Thomas, Yasuhiro Imafuku & Katsuhisa Tawada, Molecular motors: thermodynamics and the random walk, P ROY SOC LOND B BIO 268 (1481): 2113-2122, 268, 1481, 2113-2122, 2001.10.
3. Neil Thomas, Yasuhiro Imafuku & Katsuhisa Tawada, Kinesin: a molecular motor with a spring in its step, P ROY SOC LOND B BIO 269 (1507): 2363-2371, 10.1098/rspb.2002.2117, 269, 1507, 2363-2371, 2002.11.
4. Naoki Noda, Yasuhiro Imafuku, Akira Yamada and Katsuhisa Tawada, Fluctuation of actin sliding over myosin thick filaments in vitro, Biophysics Vol.1, pp45-53 (2005)., 2005.01.
5. N. Noda, Y. Imafuku, A. Yamada & K. Tawada, Fluctuation of actin sliding over myosin thick filaments in vitro, IEEE MHS2006 & Micro-Nano COE Vol.1, pp460-465 (2006). , 2006.11.
6. Y. Imafuku, N. Mitarai, K. Tawada, and H. Nakanishi , Fluctuations in sliding motion of cytoskeltal filament driven by molecular motors
, IEEE MHS2007 & Micro-Nano COE Vol.1, pp193-198 (2006)., 2007.11.
7. Yasuhiro Imafuku, Namiko Mitarai, Katsuhisa Tawada, Hiizu Nakanishi, Anomalous fluctuations in sliding motion of cytoskeletal filaments driven by molecular motors
Model simulations, Journal of Physical Chemistry B Materials, 10.1021/jp074838l, 112, 5, 1487-1493, 2008.02, It has been found in in vitro experiments that cytoskeletal filaments driven by molecular motors show finite diffusion in sliding motion even in the long filament limit [Imafuku, Y. et al. Biophys. J. 1996, 70, 878-886. Noda, N. et al. Biophysics 2005, 1, 45-53]. This anomalous fluctuation can be evidence for cooperativity among the motors in action because fluctuation should be averaged out for a long filament if the action of each motor is independent. In order to understand the nature of the fluctuation in molecular motors, we perform numerical simulations and analyze velocity correlation in three existing models that are known to show some kind of cooperativity and/or large diffusion coefficient, i.e., the Sekimoto-Tawada model [Sekimoto, K.; Tawada, K. Phys. Rev. Lett. 1995, 75, 180], the Prost model [Prost, J. et al. Phys. Rev. Lett. 1994, 72, 2652], and the Duke model [Duke, T. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 1999, 96, 2770]. It is shown that the Prost model and the Duke model do not give a finite diffusion in the long filament limit, in spite of the collective action of motors. On the other hand, the Sekimoto-Tawada model has been shown to give a diffusion coefficient that is independent of filament length, but it comes from the long time correlation whose time scale is proportional to filament length, and our simulations show that such a long correlation time conflicts with the experimental time scales. We conclude that none of the three models represent experimental findings. In order to explain the observed anomalous diffusion, we have to search for a mechanism that will allow both the amplitude and the time scale of the velocity correlation to be independent of the filament length..
8. Toshiki Taba, Masaki Edamatsu, Shiori Toba, Keitaro Shibata, Yasuhiro Imafuku, Yoko Yano Toyoshima, Katsuhisa Tawada, Akira Yamada, Direction and speed of microtubule movements driven by kinesin motors arranged on catchin thick filaments, Cytoskeleton, 10.1002/cm.20303, 65, 10, 816-826, 2008.10, Conventional kinesin (Kinesin-1) is a microtubule-based molecular motor that supports intracellular vesicle/organelle transport in various eukaryotic cells. To arrange kinesin motors similarly to myosin motors on thick filaments in muscles, the motor domain of rat conventional kinesin (amino acid residues 1-430) fused to the C-terminal 829 amino acid residues of catchin (KHC430Cat) was bacterially expressed and attached to catchin filaments that can attach to and arrange myosin molecules in a bipolar manner on their surface. Unlike the case of myosin where actin filaments move toward the center much faster than in the opposite direction along the catchin filaments, microtubules moved at the same speed in both directions. In addition, many microtubules moved across the filaments at the same speed with various angles between the axes of the microtubule and catchin filament. Kinesin/catchin chimera proteins with a shorter kinesin neck domain were also prepared. Those without the whole hinge 1 domain and the C-terminal part of the neck helix moved microtubules toward the center of the catchin filaments significantly, but only slightly, faster than in the opposite direction, although the movements in both directions were slower than those of the KHC430Cat construct. The results suggest that kinesin has substantial mechanical flexibility within the motor domain, possibly within the neck linker, enabling its interaction with microtubules having any orientation..
9. Yasuhiro Imafuku, Neil Thomas, Katsuhisa Tawada, Hopping and stalling of processive molecular motors, Journal of Theoretical Biology, 10.1016/j.jtbi.2009.07.011, 261, 1, 43-49, 2009.11, When a two-headed molecular motor such as kinesin is attached to its track by just a single head in the presence of an applied load, thermally activated head detachment followed by rapid re-attachment at another binding site can cause the motor to 'hop' backwards. Such hopping, on its own, would produce a linear force-velocity relation. However, for kinesin, we must incorporate hopping into the motor's alternating-head scheme, where we expect it to be most important for the state prior to neck-linker docking. We show that hopping can account for the backward steps, run length and stalling of conventional kinesin. In particular, although hopping does not hydrolyse ATP, we find that the hopping rate obeys the same Michaelis-Menten relation as the ATP hydrolysis rate. Hopping can also account for the reduced processivity observed in kinesins with mutations in their tubulin-binding loop. Indeed, it may provide a general mechanism for the breakdown of perfect processivity in two-headed molecular motors..
10. Neil Thomas, Yasuhiro Imafuku, Effect of elastic energy on the folding of an RNA hairpin, Journal of Theoretical Biology, 10.1016/j.jtbi.2012.07.021, 312, 96-104, 2012.11, We analyse the folding and unfolding of an RNA hairpin using a conventional zipping model that includes both the free energy for RNA binding and the elastic free energy of the system. Unfolding under isotonic conditions (where we control the applied load) is known to occur at a well-defined critical load. In marked contrast, we find that unfolding under isometric conditions (where we control the extension of the hairpin) produces a series of sharp peaks in the average load as the stem of the hairpin starts to unzip base by base. A peak occurs when the elastic energy stored in the unzipped arms of the hairpin becomes so large that it is energetically favourable for the next base pair to unzip: the consequent increase in the contour length of the unzipped arms reduces their elastic energy and causes the average load to fall abruptly. However, as the contour length of the unzipped arms increases, the peaks become less distinct. Moreover, when we include the long DNA/RNA handles that have been used in single-molecule experiments, the unzipping of individual base pairs cannot be resolved at all. Instead, with the hairpin in the folded state, the average load increases with extension until the elastic energy stored in the handles makes it energetically favourable for the hairpin to unzip over a narrow range of extensions. The resultant yield point produces a mechanical hysteresis loop with a negative slope, as observed experimentally. Unfolding of the hairpin is also affected by the elastic energy stored in a compliant force transducer. We find that short, stiff handles and a stiff force transducer could improve the resolution of mechanical experiments on single molecules..
11. Yasuhiro Imafuku, Koh ichi Enomoto, Hiroko Kataoka, Isao Ito, Takashi Maeno, Novel Distinctive Roles of Docking Proteins in Short-term Synaptic Plasticity of Frog Neuromuscular Transmission Revealed by Botulinum Neurotoxins, Neuroscience, 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2017.11.022, 369, 374-385, 2018.01, Short-term synaptic plasticity (SSP) is a basic mechanism for temporal processing of neural information in synaptic transmission. Facilitation, the fastest component of SSP, has been extensively investigated with regard to Ca2+ signaling and other relevant substances. However, systematic analyses on the slower components of SSP, originated by Magleby and Zengel, have remained stagnant for decades, as few chemicals directly modifying these slower components have been identified. In combination with refined experimental protocols designed to study the stimulation frequency-dependence of SSP and botulinum neurotoxins A and C (BoNT-A and BoNT-C), we investigated SSP of frog neuromuscular transmission to clarify the roles of synaptosomal-associated protein of 25 kDa (SNAP-25) and syntaxin, SNARE proteins exclusively participating in vesicular events including docking, priming and exocytosis. We found that BoNT-A treatment eliminated slow potentiation, and BoNT-C poisoning abolished intermediate augmentation, two components of SSP. Fast facilitation was maintained after double poisoning with BoNT-A and -C, but the postsynaptic response became biphasic. A novel depression, termed repression, emerged by double poisoning. Repression was different from depletion because it developed even at a low-frequency stimulation of 1 Hz. We conclude that SNAP-25 and syntaxin not only play roles as cooperative exocytotic machinery, but also have roles in SSP..
Works, Software and Database
1. .
1. Yasuhiro Imafuku, Koh-ichi Enomoto, Hiroko Kataoka, Isao Ito, and Takashi Maeno, Novel Roles of SNARE Proteins in Short-term Synaptic Plasticity of Frog Neuromuscular Transmission, 第41回日本神経科学大会, 2018.07.
2. Yasuhiro Imafuku, Koh-ichi Enomoto, Hiroko Kataoka, Isao Ito, and Takashi Maeno, Novel Distinctive Roles of Docking Proteins in Short-term Synaptic Plasticity of Frog Neuromuscular Transmission, 第55回日本生物物理学会年会, 2017.09.
3. Yasuhiro Imafuku, Nils Gustafsson and Neil Thomas, ATP synthesis by elastically coupled molecular motors, 第52回日本生物物理学会年会, 2014.09.
4. ATP synthesis by elastically coupled nanomotors.
5. Zipping dynamics of RNA hairpin and kinesin neck linker.
6. Dynamics of zipping the kinesin neck linker and an RNA hairpin.
7. Hopping and Stalling of Processive Molecular Motors.
8. Torsional Flexibility of Kinesin: Direction and Speed of Microtubule Movements Driven by Kinesin Motors Arranged on Catchin Filaments.
Membership in Academic Society
  • The Japan Neuroscience Society
  • Biophysical Society of Japan