Atsushi Nakano, M.D., Ph.D.

Laboratory Address:
457 BSRB

Mailing Address:
UCLA Mol, Cell & Dvlmt Bio
BOX 951606, 490D BSRB
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Office Address:

Associate Professor, Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology
Member, Eli & Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine & Stem Cell Research
Research Interests
The mammalian heart is a complex multi-chambered pump. The proper function of the heart requires highly coordinated process of differentiation and integration of each cellular component. Through the continuing evolutionary selection the cardiac morphogenesis process has been modified and fine tuned to eventually make the miracle of mammalian cardiogenesis. For more than three decades, researchers have been studying how artistic and miraculous this morphogenesis event is. The recent advances in forward and reverse molecular genetics have added a new dimension to the understanding of the cardiogenesis - as represented by discoveries of key transcription factors and diverse cell lineages contributing to the formation of the heart, the developmental biology of the heart has had a great progress over the past decade. However, our understanding of how a highly diverse and specialized subset of heart cell lineages arises from mesodermal precursors and subsequently is assembled into distinct muscle chambers, coronary arterial tree and large vessels, valvular tissue, and conduction system/pacemaker cells remains at a relatively primitive stage. The overall goal of our research is to understand the art of the cardiogenesis from stem cell perspective and uncover the fundamental mechanism of heart formation that cannot be answered simply by molecules and morphology. The key questions we would like to address are; (1) How the commitment and diversification of the cardiac cells is regulated at each level of cardiogenesis (2) How plastic the heart cells are and what is the biological significance of the plasticity during cardiac morphogenesis and disease development (3) What is the molecular mechanism that makes the adult cardiomyocytes terminally differentiated and unable to divide.

Austin Nakano got his MD and PhD in Kyoto University, Japan, and has 4 years of clinical experience as a cardiologist. He has had postdoc training at Harvard University/Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Stem Cell Institute until he was recruited as an assistant professor at UCLA in 2008. His research focuses on the developmental biology and stem cell biology of the heart. He has been attraceted by the beauty of the morphogenesis of the heart. Although recent progress in the developmental biology of the heart has been revealed the lineage diversity of the cardiac progenitors, it has been difficult to dissect the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the process of specification, multipotency, proliferation, differentiation and plasticity of these diverse compotents of the heart. Austin has established a culture system to grow embryonic cardiac progenitor cells in vitro using cardiac mesenchymal feeder system, and several genetically modified mice that label specific cardiac progenitor populations. Using a combination of these unique system and orthodox methodologies, Austin is attempting to understand the art of cardiogenesis at the cellular level.


A selected list of publications:

Nakano, A. Nakano, H. Chien, K. R.   Multipotent Islet-1 Cardiovascular Progenitors in Development and Disease, Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol , 2009; (e-pub): .
Laugwitz, K. L. Moretti, A. Caron, L. Nakano, A. Chien, K. R.   Islet1 cardiovascular progenitors: a single source for heart lineages? Development, 2008; 135(2): 193-205.
Sonoda, E. Zhao, G. Y. Kohzaki, M. Dhar, P. K. Kikuchi, K. Redon, C. Pilch, D. R. Bonner, W. M. Nakano, A. Watanabe, M. Nakayama, T. Takeda, S. Takami, Y.   Collaborative roles of gammaH2AX and the Rad51 paralog Xrcc3 in homologous recombinational repair DNA Repair (Amst), 2007; 6(3): 280-92.
Moretti, A*. Caron, L*. Nakano, A*. Lam, J. T. Bernshausen, A. Chen, Y. Qyang, Y. Bu, L. Sasaki, M. Martin-Puig, S. Sun, Y. Evans, S. M. Laugwitz, K. L. Chien, K. R.   Multipotent embryonic isl1+ progenitor cells lead to cardiac, smooth muscle, and endothelial cell diversification Cell, 2006; 127(6): 1151-65 *=equal contribution.
Seo, S. Fujita, H. Nakano, A. Kang, M. Duarte, A. Kume, T.   The forkhead transcription factors, Foxc1 and Foxc2, are required for arterial specification and lymphatic sprouting during vascular development Dev Biol, 2006; 294(2): 458-70.
Kitaura-Inenaga, K. Hara, M. Higuchi, K. Yamamoto, K. Yamaki, A. Ono, K. Nakano, A. Kinoshita, M. Sasayama, S. Matsumori, A.   Gene expression of cardiac mast cell chymase and tryptase in a murine model of heart failure caused by viral myocarditis Circ J, 2003; 67(10): 881-4.
Ito, H. Nakano, A. Kinoshita, M. Matsumori, A.   Pioglitazone, a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma agonist, attenuates myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury in a rat model Lab Invest, 2003; 83(12): 1715-21.
Adachi, O. Nakano, A. Sato, O. Kawamoto, S. Tahara, H. Toyoda, N. Yamato, E. Matsumori, A. Tabayashi, K. Miyazaki, J.   Gene transfer of Fc-fusion cytokine by in vivo electroporation: application to gene therapy for viral myocarditis Gene Ther, 2002; 9(9): 577-83.
Nakano, A. Matsumori, A. Kawamoto, S. Tahara, H. Yamato, E. Sasayama, S. Miyazaki, J. I.   Cytokine gene therapy for myocarditis by in vivo electroporation Hum Gene Ther, 2001; 12(10): 1289-97.
Ohashi, N. Matsumori, A. Furukawa, Y. Ono, K. Okada, M. Iwasaki, A. Miyamoto, T. Nakano, A. Sasayama, S.   Role of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase in neointimal hyperplasia after vascular injury Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol, 2000; 20(12): 2521-6.
Sakanoue, Y. Nakano, A. Izumi, C. Inoko, M. Kitaguchi, S. Himura, Y. Iga, K. Gen, H. Konishi, T.   Aortic regurgitation in a patient with primary antiphospholipid syndrome--a case report Jpn Circ J, 1998; 62(3): 228-30.
Nakano, A. Konishi, T.   Long term follow-up in a case of anomalous origin of the left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery Int J Cardiol, 1998; 65(3): 301-3.
Iga, K. Izumi, C. Nakano, A. Sakanoue, Y. Miyamoto, T. Kitaguchi, S. Himura, Y. Gen, H. Konishi, T.   Problems in pharmacological evaluation of patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation: clinical analysis of more than 100 consecutive patients Intern Med, 1998; 37(12): 1005-8.
Iga, K. Izumi, C. Nakano, A. Sakanoue, Y. Kitaguchi, S. Himura, Y. Gen, H. Konishi, T.   Problems in the initial diagnosis of renal infarction Intern Med, 1997; 36(5): 330-2.
Nakano Haruko, Liu Xiaoqian, Arshi Armin, Nakashima Yasuhiro, van Handel Ben, Sasidharan Rajkumar, Harmon Andrew W, Shin Jae-Ho, Schwartz Robert J, Conway Simon J, Harvey Richard P, Pashmforoush Mohammad, Mikkola Hanna K A, Nakano Atsushi   Haemogenic endocardium contributes to transient definitive haematopoiesis Nature communications, 2013; 4(11): 1564.
Van Handel Ben, Montel-Hagen Amélie, Sasidharan Rajkumar, Nakano Haruko, Ferrari Roberto, Boogerd Cornelis J, Schredelseker Johann, Wang Yanling, Hunter Sean, Org Tõnis, Zhou Jian, Li Xinmin, Pellegrini Matteo, Chen Jau-Nian, Orkin Stuart H, Kurdistani Siavash K, Evans Sylvia M, Nakano Atsushi, Mikkola Hanna K A   Scl represses cardiomyogenesis in prospective hemogenic endothelium and endocardium Cell, 2012; 150(3): 590-605.
Lee Steven W, Anderson Allison, Guzman Pilar A, Nakano Atsushi, Tolkacheva Elena G, Wickman Kevin   Atrial GIRK Channels Mediate the Effects of Vagus Nerve Stimulation on Heart Rate Dynamics and Arrhythmogenesis Frontiers in physiology, 2018; 9: 943.
Nakano Haruko, Williams Estrelania, Hoshijima Masahiko, Sasaki Mika, Minamisawa Susumu, Chien Kenneth R, Nakano Atsushi   Cardiac origin of smooth muscle cells in the inflow tract Journal of molecular and cellular cardiology, 2011; 50(2): 337-45.
Anderson Allison, Kulkarni Kanchan, Marron Fernandez de Velasco Ezequiel, Carlblom Nicholas, Xia Zhilian, Nakano Atsushi, Martemyanov Kirill A, Tolkacheva Elena G, Wickman Kevin   Expression and relevance of the G protein-gated K Scientific reports, 2018; 8(1): 1192.
Tao Yu, Yen Ming-Ren, Chitiashvili Tsotne, Nakano Haruko, Kim Rachel, Hosohama Linzi, Tan Yao Chang, Nakano Atsushi, Chen Pao-Yang, Clark Amander T   TRIM28-Regulated Transposon Repression Is Required for Human Germline Competency and Not Primed or Naive Human Pluripotency Stem cell reports, 2018; 10(1): 243-256.
Nakano Haruko, Minami Itsunari, Braas Daniel, Pappoe Herman, Wu Xiuju, Sagadevan Addelynn, Vergnes Laurent, Fu Kai, Morselli Marco, Dunham Christopher, Ding Xueqin, Stieg Adam Z, Gimzewski James K, Pellegrini Matteo, Clark Peter M, Reue Karen, Lusis Aldons J, Ribalet Bernard, Kurdistani Siavash K, Christofk Heather, Nakatsuji Norio, Nakano Atsushi   Glucose inhibits cardiac muscle maturation through nucleotide biosynthesis eLife, 2017; 6(1): 243-256.
Zhu Huanqi, Scharnhorst Kelsey S, Stieg Adam Z, Gimzewski James K, Minami Itsunari, Nakatsuji Norio, Nakano Haruko, Nakano Atsushi   Two dimensional electrophysiological characterization of human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocyte system Scientific reports, 2017; 7(1): 43210.
Ding Yichen, Lee Juhyun, Ma Jianguo, Sung Kevin, Yokota Tomohiro, Singh Neha, Dooraghi Mojdeh, Abiri Parinaz, Wang Yibin, Kulkarni Rajan P, Nakano Atsushi, Nguyen Thao P, Fei Peng, Hsiai Tzung K   Light-sheet fluorescence imaging to localize cardiac lineage and protein distribution Scientific reports, 2017; 7(1): 42209.
Sung Kevin, Ding Yichen, Ma Jianguo, Chen Harrison, Huang Vincent, Cheng Michelle, Yang Cindy F, Kim Jocelyn T, Eguchi Daniel, Di Carlo Dino, Hsiai Tzung K, Nakano Atsushi, Kulkarni Rajan P   Simplified three-dimensional tissue clearing and incorporation of colorimetric phenotyping Scientific reports, 2016; 6(1): 30736.
Nakano Atsushi, Nakano Haruko, Smith Kelly A, Palpant Nathan J   The developmental origins and lineage contributions of endocardial endothelium Biochimica et biophysica acta, 2016; 1863(7 Pt B): 1937-47.
Young Courtney S, Hicks Michael R, Ermolova Natalia V, Nakano Haruko, Jan Majib, Younesi Shahab, Karumbayaram Saravanan, Kumagai-Cresse Chino, Wang Derek, Zack Jerome A, Kohn Donald B, Nakano Atsushi, Nelson Stanley F, Miceli M Carrie, Spencer Melissa J, Pyle April D   A Single CRISPR-Cas9 Deletion Strategy that Targets the Majority of DMD Patients Restores Dystrophin Function in hiPSC-Derived Muscle Cells Cell stem cell, 2016; 18(4): 533-40.
Shimura Daisuke, Kusakari Yoichiro, Sasano Tetsuo, Nakashima Yasuhiro, Nakai Gaku, Jiao Qibin, Jin Meihua, Yokota Tomohiro, Ishikawa Yoshihiro, Nakano Atsushi, Goda Nobuhito, Minamisawa Susumu   Heterozygous deletion of sarcolipin maintains normal cardiac function American journal of physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology, 2016; 310(1): H92-103.
Lluri Gentian, Huang Vincent, Touma Marlin, Liu Xiaoqian, Harmon Andrew W, Nakano Atsushi   Hematopoietic progenitors are required for proper development of coronary vasculature Journal of molecular and cellular cardiology, 2015; 86(1): 199-207.
Kim Peter Geon, Nakano Haruko, Das Partha P, Chen Michael J, Rowe R Grant, Chou Stephanie S, Ross Samantha J, Sakamoto Kathleen M, Zon Leonard I, Schlaeger Thorsten M, Orkin Stuart H, Nakano Atsushi, Daley George Q   Flow-induced protein kinase A-CREB pathway acts via BMP signaling to promote HSC emergence The Journal of experimental medicine, 2015; 212(5): 633-48.
Shimizu Hirohito, Schredelseker Johann, Huang Jie, Lu Kui, Naghdi Shamim, Lu Fei, Franklin Sarah, Fiji Hannah Dg, Wang Kevin, Zhu Huanqi, Tian Cheng, Lin Billy, Nakano Haruko, Ehrlich Amy, Nakai Junichi, Stieg Adam Z, Gimzewski James K, Nakano Atsushi, Goldhaber Joshua I, Vondriska Thomas M, Hajnóczky György, Kwon Ohyun, Chen Jau-Nian   Mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake by the voltage-dependent anion channel 2 regulates cardiac rhythmicity eLife, 2015; 4(5): 633-48.
Nakashima Yasuhiro, Yanez Diana A, Touma Marlin, Nakano Haruko, Jaroszewicz Artur, Jordan Maria C, Pellegrini Matteo, Roos Kenneth P, Nakano Atsushi   Nkx2-5 suppresses the proliferation of atrial myocytes and conduction system Circulation research, 2014; 114(7): 1103-13.
Harmon Andrew W, Nakano Atsushi   Nkx2-5 lineage tracing visualizes the distribution of second heart field-derived aortic smooth muscle Genesis (New York, N.Y. : 2000), 2013; 51(12): 862-9.
Groenke Sabine, Larson Eric D, Alber Sarah, Zhang Rui, Lamp Scott T, Ren Xiaoyan, Nakano Haruko, Jordan Maria C, Karagueuzian Hrayr S, Roos Kenneth P, Nakano Atsushi, Proenza Catherine, Philipson Kenneth D, Goldhaber Joshua I   Complete atrial-specific knockout of sodium-calcium exchange eliminates sinoatrial node pacemaker activity PloS one, 2013; 8(11): e81633.