Immune Signal Unit (Hiroki Ishikawa)

Project overview

Immune system, which is comprised of sophisticated cellular network, plays essential role for host defense against pathogens including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Defective immune responses can cause various infectious diseases such as AIDS, influenza, and malaria. While, inadequate excessive immune responses targeting own cells can cause allergy and autoimmune diseases. Thus, understanding the molecular mechanism of immune system is important to develop strategy to cure or prevent various diseases.

Immune response is initiated by the recognition of molecules derived from pathogens as non-self by innate immune system, which subsequently activates lymphoid T cells and B cells that mediate antigen-specific adaptive immune responses. Both innate and adaptive immune responses are required for efficient elimination of pathogens and infected cells. After pathogen removal by immune responses, some activated T cells and B cells are maintained as memory cells for long time and mediate faster and stronger responses than naïve cells when they meet same antigen.

Our team is very interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying how adaptive immune system is activated by innate immune system and how immunological memory is generated and maintained. To understand these mechanisms, we aim to identify and characterize the novel key regulators and signaling of immune response in mouse model using techniques of molecular biology, biochemistry, bioinformatics, and genetics. These studies should improve the understanding of molecular mechanism of immune system and help the design of effective vaccines that provide long-lasting protection from pathogen infection.


  • Ishikawa, H., and Barber, G.N. (2011) The STING pathway and regulation of innate immune signaling in response to DNA pathogens. Cell Mol. Life Sci. 68, 1157-65.
  • Ishikawa, H., Ma, Z., and Barber, G.N. (2009) STING regulates intracellular DNA-mediated, type I interferon-dependent innate immunity. Nature 461, 778-792.
  • Ishikawa, H., and Barber, G.N. (2008) STING is an endoplasmic reticulum adaptor that facilitates innate immune signalling. Nature 455, 674-678.