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Dr Haruko Okamoto PhD

Lecturer, Principal Investigator of Plant Molecular Genetics & Biochemistry

Dr Haruko Okamoto's photo

Dr Haruko Okamoto is Lecturer within Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Career history

2014-Present: Lecturer. Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, UK.
2009-2014: Assistant Professor. Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Iwate Medical University, Japan.
2008-2009: Research Associate. University of Oxford, UK.
2003-2008: BBSRC Research Fellow. University of Oxford, UK.
2001-2003: Postdoctoral Assistant. University of Oxford, UK.
1997-2001: Postdoctoral Fellow. Department of Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University, USA.

Research interests

G-protein signalling in plants

My main interest is to dissect the molecular basis of heterotrimeric G-protein signalling in processes modulated by light. The genome of the model plant Arabidopsis encodes just one gene of each of the Gα and Gβ subunits thus providing us with a uniquely simple system. T-DNA insertion mutants as well as plants overexpressing Gα and Gβ subunit have been analysed for their physiological characteristics in response to a range of environmental signals. Our main focus is to understand the molecular basis of heterotrimeric G-protein signalling in Arabidopsis by employing techniques of molecular biology, cell biology and genetics. Light signalling pathways, mediated by a range of photoreceptors such as cryptochromes and phytochromes, have been identified as one of the many pathways in which heterotrimeric G-proteins function and therefore we are using light signals as a primary input to understand the G-protein signalling process.

The role of V-ATPases: environmental sensing and medical applications

The vacuole in plants and the acidic compartments such as lysosomes in animals, play a central role in cellular homeostasis and their responses to environmental stresses. The proton pump vacuolar ATPase (V-ATPase) has V1 that hydrolyses ATP and the energy is coupled to the rotation of Vo complex that forms a pore for proton transport across the membrane. However, how the V-ATPases sense and regulate proton transport activity is largely unknown. We have found several key amino acid residues in the E subunit of the V1 complex of yeast V-ATPase that are required for the regulation of activity in response to carbon availability and by temperature indicating that the V-ATPase E subunit has a role in sensing the environment. V-ATPases are implicated in both drug resistance and metastasis of cancer cells and we will use the yeast system to identify novel inhibitors of V-ATPases.

Research group

Plants and Food Security

Affiliate research group

Molecular and Cellular Biosciences

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Book Chapters



BIOL1005 & BIOL1006 Cell Biology & Genetics
BIOL1008 Metabolism & Metabolic Disorders
BIOL1011 Foundations of Physiology I
BIOL2017 Pharmacology B
BIOL3018 & BIOL6022 Molecular Pharmacology


BIOL2022 Immunology, Infection and Inflammation
Year 2 Biol/Zool tutorials

Supervisor for

BIOL3031 & BIOL3032 Literature research project
BIOL3034 In-depth research project
BIOL3060 Bioscience communication
BIOL6053 Current Research





Professional membership

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology ASBMB

Dr Haruko Okamoto
University of Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number: 85/6006

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