• Genome Dynamics Project

Genome Dynamics Project

Stable inheritance of genome and its dysregulation in cancer development

Project Leader Hisao Masai

Project Leader
Hisao Masai

Hisao Masai, the director-general of the institute since 2018, has led the Genome Dynamics Project since 2009. After graduating from the University of Tokyo in 1981, he worked on mechanisms of DNA replication as a graduate student under the supervision of Dr. Ken-ichi Arai at DNAX Research Institute in Palo Alto, California, USA, and received his Ph.D. in 1987 from the University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Science. He has spent his career studying how genetic information is duplicated and inherited, and what happens when these processes fail. His current interests include understanding the primordial mode of DNA replication, and the roles of unusual nucleic acid structures, including G-quadruplexes and RNA-DNA hybrids in shaping chromosomes, copying and reading genetic information, and causing detrimental diseases.


The inheritance and maintenance of the genome involve controlled execution of various chromosome transactions, including DNA replication, repair of lesions, and precise distribution of replicated chromosomes into daughter cells. The error-free achievement of these processes requires numerous genomic signatures and proteins that act on them as well as cellular signaling reactions that are activated in response to various environmental and endogenous signals. Changes in the factors involved in these individual processes are responsible for diseases such as cancer.

We seek to understand molecular mechanisms of genome DNA replication and how it is controlled, which are essential to elucidation of how genome is stably maintained and accurately inherited. For that, we try to clarify molecular machinery involved in the process of DNA replication and decipher the signals embedded in genome sequences and structures that control it. Through these efforts, we will try to understand the molecular basis of pathogenesis for various diseases including cancer and apply our discovery to the development of new strategies for their diagnosis and treatment.


  • To elucidate the molecular mechanisms of genome DNA replication that are conserved from human cells to bacteria
  • To elucidate the physiological significance of the unique DNA structures of the genome in its stable inheritance and maintenance
  • To create new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies against cancer and other diseases on the basis of new findings


Project Leader Hisao Masai 

  • Hiroyuki Sasanuma
  • Zhiying You
  • Taku Tanaka
  • Yutaka Kanoh
  • Youichi Tajima
  • Tomohiro Iguchi
  • Chi-Chun YANG