In my early career, I contributed to the discovery of the existence of stem cells in brain cancers in 2003. In parallel, I worked in the neural stem cell biology field, where I identified a set of the shared molecular mechanisms that regulate neural and brain cancer stem cells. More recently, my lab and our collaborators have nailed down the molecular mechanisms that causally contribute to stemness specifically in brain cancers but not in the normal counterparts.
a. Cancerous stem cells can arise from pediatric brain tumors. Hemmati HD, Nakano I, Lazareff JA, Masterman-Smith M, Geschwind DH, Bronner-Fraser M, Kornblum HI. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Dec 9;100(25):15178-83. PMID: 14645703 * Cited >1550 times as of April 2015
b. Maternal Embryonic Leucine Zipper Kinase Regulates Multipotent Neural Progenitor Proliferation. Nakano, I, Paucar, AA, Bajpai, R, Dougherty, JD, Zewail, A, Kelly, TK, Kim, KJ, Ou, J, Groszer, M, Imura, T, Freije WA, Nelson, SF, Sofroniew, MV, Wu, H, Liu, X, Terskikh, AV, Geschwind, DH, Kornblum, HI. J Cell Biol. 2005 Aug 1;170(3):413-27
c. CD44v6 regulates brain tumor stem cell growth partially through the AKT-mediated pathway. Jijiwa M, Demir H, Gupta S, Leung C, Joshi K, Orozco N, Huang T, Yildiz VO, Shibahara I, de Jesus JA, Yong WH, Mischel PS, Fernandez S, Kornblum HI, Nakano I. PLoS ONE 6(9):e24217.doi:10.1371/journal.pone. 0024217
d. Brain Tumor Initiating Cells Adapt to Restricted Nutrition through Preferential Glucose Uptake. Flavahan W, Wu Q, Hitomi M, Rahim N, Kim Y, Sloan AE, Weil RJ, Nakano I, Sarkaria JN, Stringer BW, Li M, Lathia JD, Rich JN, Hjelmeland AB. Nature Neuroscience 2013 Oct;16(10):1373-82. doi: 10.1038/nn.3510.
e. Pigment Epithelium-Derived Factor (PEDF) Expression Induced by EGFRvIII Promotes Self-renewal and Tumor Progression of Glioma Stem Cells. Yin J, Park G, Kim TH, Hong JH, Kim YJ, Jin X, Kang S, Jung JE, Kim JY, Yun H, Lee JE, Kim M, Chung J, Kim H, Nakano I, Gwak HS, Yoo H, Yoo BC, Kim JH, Hur EM, Lee J, Lee SH, Park MJ, Park JB. PLoS Biol. 2015 May 20;13(5):e1002152.