Laboratory for Tissue Microenvironment | RIKEN BDR

Laboratory for Tissue Microenvironment

Team Leader

Hironobu FujiwaraPh.D.

Photo of principal investigator

  • Location:Kobe / Developmental Biology Buildings
  • E-mail:hironobu.fujiwara[at]riken.jpPlease replace [at] with @.
  • Lab Website

Understanding how tissue microenvironments regulate organ formation

Research Summary

In our bodies, we have millions of different environments in which cells reside, which are known as cellular or tissue microenvironments. These specialized tissue microenvironments instruct the fate and behaviors of cells. The aim of our lab is to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the ways in which tissue microenvironments are regionally specialized, and how these specialized microenvironments in turn instruct cell behavior, cell-cell communication, and organ formation. Our projects are focused on understanding 1) the extrinsic regulation of stem cells and 2) the role of extracellular matrix (ECM) heterogeneity in organogenesis, using mammalian skin as a model. A more in-depth knowledge of these mutually related research focuses will provide a molecular basis to further understand how microenvironments regulate stem cells and organ formation, and for developing tailor-made microenvironments for different lineages of stem cells in the skin.

The image shows arrector pili muscles anchored to the bulge of hair follicles in a whole-mount preparation of mouse dorsal skin, viewed from the dermal side. Arrector pili muscles are visualized by staining for α-smooth muscle actin (green) and SM22α (red). The whole-mount is labeled with a nuclear counterstain (blue).

Schematic representation of adult stem cells and the basement membrane in mouse skin.

The image shows how basement membrane heterogeneity (illustrated as a wall of stained glass) affects cell-cell communication.

Research Theme

  • Stem cell induction and maintenance, and its extrinsic regulation in the skin
  • Extracellular matrix heterogeneity in skin organogenesis

Main Publications List

  • Morita R, Sanzen N, Sasaki H, et al.
    Tracing the origin of hair follicle stem cells.
    Nature (2021) doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03638-5
  • Tsutsui K, Machida H, Nakagawa A, et al.
    Mapping the molecular and structural specialization of the skin basement membrane for inter-tissue interactions.
    Nature Communications 12. 2577 (2021) doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-22881-y
  • Cheng CC, Tsutsui K, Taguchi T, et al.
    Hair follicle epidermal stem cells define a niche for tactile sensation.
    eLife (2018) doi: 10.7554/eLife.38883
  • Donati G, Proserpio V, Lichtenberger B M, et al.
    Epidermal Wnt/beta-catenin signaling regulates adipocyte differentiation via secretion of adipogenic factors.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111. E1501–9 (2014) doi:10.1073/pnas.1312880111
  • Fujiwara H, Ferreira M, Donati G, et al.
    The basement membrane of hair follicle stem cells is a muscle cell niche.
    Cell 144. 577–89 (2011) doi:10.1016/j.cell.2011.01.014
  • Watt F M and Fujiwara H.
    Cell-extracellular matrix interactions in normal and diseased skin.
    Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology 3(4). a005124 (2011) doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a005124
  • Ferreira M, Fujiwara H, Morita K and Watt F M.
    An activating beta1 integrin mutation increases the conversion of benign to malignant skin tumors.
    Cancer Research 69.1334–42 (2009) doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-3051
  • Fujiwara H, Hayashi Y, Sanzen N, et al.
    Regulation of mesodermal differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells by basement membranes.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 282. 29701–11 (2007) doi:10.1074/jbc.M611452200
  • Fujiwara H, Gu J and Sekiguchi K.
    Rac regulates integrin-mediated endothelial cell adhesion and migration on laminin-8.
    Experimental Cell Research 292. 67–77 (2004) doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2003.08.010


Hironobu FujiwaraTeam Leader    
Ritsuko MoritaResearch Scientist    
Asako NakagawaTechnical Staff II    
Noriko BanTechnical Staff II    
Hiroki MachidaJunior Research Associate    
Duligengaowa WuergezhenInternational Program Associate    
Ko TsutsuiVisiting Scientist    
Kyungmin AhnVisiting Scientist    
Jun YokotaVisiting Scientist    
Weiwen LiuVisiting Scientist    

*:concurrent / Please replace [at] with @.