Akihiro Kusumi

Photo of Akihiro Kusumi
Akihiro Kusumi
D.Sc. (Biophysics) Department of Biophysics, Kyoto University, 1980
B.Sc. (Biophysics) Department of Biophysics, Kyoto University, 1975

My love of membranes was accidentally initiated when I, a senior majoring in physics at that time, entered a wrong lecture room where Prof. Shun-ichi Ohnishi of Kyoto University happened to be lecturing about the Singer-Nicolson’s fluid mosaic model in his membrane course in 1974, just two years after the publication of this model. I instantaneously fell in love with the beauty of the fluid-mosaic model, which tremendously stimulated my physics mind because I sensed the cooperative nature of molecular interactions occurring in the 2.5 dimensional space of the cell membrane. Prof. Ohnishi became my PhD advisor, with whom I studied the rotational diffusion of rhodopsin in reconstituted membranes using saturation transfer EPR, just invented by Prof. Jim Hyde of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

I did my postdoc research with Jim, who is responsible for my developing patience for the signal-to-noise ratios of less than three (nonlinear EPR of membranes, 1980-2), which later helped me greatly to develop and conduct single-molecule imaging in living cells. Then, I did my second post-doc with Prof. Malcolm Steinberg (Princeton University, 1982-4), who is responsible for my cellular and developmental biology (cell adhesion and desmosomes).

Through these foggy periods, I somehow developed my love of time-resolved fluorescence measurements under the microscope (1984) and single-molecule imaging (1989). Like molecules in the plasma membrane, I underwent hop diffusion from Kyoto (Asst. Prof. 1984), Tokyo (Assoc. Prof. 1988), Nagoya (Prof. 1997), Kyoto again (Prof. 2005), and then to Okinawa (Prof. 2016), and sometimes became trapped in smaller domains within a compartment, carrying out projects called “Membrane Organizers”, “Membrane Mechanisms”, and “Hierarchical Meso-Scale Domains”, supported by Japan Science and Technology agency and the Ministry of Education of the Japanese government.

Professional Experience

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Biophysics, Faculty of Science, Kyoto University, 1984-1988
  • Visiting Professor, Department of Radiology and Biophysics, The Medical College of Wisconsin, 1984-1994
  • Associate Professor, Department of Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 1988-1997
  • Professor, Department of Biological Science, Nagoya University, 1997-2004
  • Project Leader, Kusumi Membrane Organizer Project, Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology Organization (ERATO), Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), 1998-2005
  • Project Leader, Membrane Mechanisms Project, International Cooperative Research Project (ICORP), JST, 2005-2010
  • Professor, Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences, Kyoto University, 2005-present
  • Professor, Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (WPI-iCeMS), Kyoto University, 2007-Present
  • Visiting Professor, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, 2016-Present


  • Setoh Award, Japanese Society for Microscopy, 2002
  • Ministry of Education Award, 45th Science and Technology Film/Video Festival, 2004
  • Excellency Prize, 14th TEPIA High-Tech Video Competition, the Machine Industry Memorial Foundation, 2004
  • Excellence Award, 52nd Science and Technology Film/Video Festival, 2011

Select Publications

Original Papers

  • Z. Kalay, T. K. Fujiwara, A. Otaka, and A. Kusumi. Lateral diffusion in a discrete fluid membrane with immobile particles. Phys. Rev. E 89, 022724 (2014).
  • K. O. Nagata, C. Nakada, R. S. Kasai, and A. Kusumi (co-corresponding author) and K. Ueda. ABCA1 dimer-monomer interconversion during HDL generation revealed by single-molecule imaging. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 110, 5034-5039 (2013).
  • H. Nishimura, K. Ritchie, R. S. Kasai, N. Morone, H. Sugimura, K. Tanaka, I. Sase, A. Yoshimura, Y. Nakano, T. K. Fujiwara, and A. Kusumi. Biocompatible fluorescent silicon nanocrystals for single-molecule tracking and fluorescence imaging. J. Cell Biol. 202, 967-983 (2013). (Featured in “In This Issue” of the journal)
  • K. G. N. Suzuki, R. S. Kasai, K. M. Hirosawa, Y. L. Nemoto, M. Ishibashi, Y. Miwa, T. K. Fujiwara, and A. Kusumi. Transient GPI-anchored protein homodimers are units for raft organization and function. Nat. Chem. Biol. 8, 774-783 (2012). (Featured in “News and Views” of the journal)
  • R. S. Kasai, K. G. N. Suzuki, E. R. Prossnitz, I. Koyama-Honda, C. Nakada, T. K. Fujiwara, and A. Kusumi. Full characterization of GPCR monomer-dimer dynamic equilibrium by single molecule imaging. J. Cell Biol. 192, 463-480 (2011).
  • K. A. K. Tanaka, K. G, N. Suzuki, Y. M. Shirai, S. T. Shibutani, M. S. H. Miyahara, H. Tsuboi, M. Yahara, A. Yoshimura, S. Mayor, T. K. Fujiwara, and A. Kusumi. Membrane molecules mobile even after chemical fixation. Nat. Methods 7, 865-866 (2010).
  • K. G. N. Suzuki, T. K., Fujiwara, M. Edidin, and A. Kusumi. Dynamic recruitment of phospholipase Cγ at transiently immobilized GPI-anchored receptor clusters induces IP3-Ca2+ signaling: single-molecule tracking study 2. J. Cell Biol. 177, 731-742 (2007).
  • K. G. N. Suzuki, T. K., Fujiwara, F. Sanematsu, R. Iino, M. Edidin, and A. Kusumi. GPI-anchored receptor clusters transiently recruit Lyn and Ga for temporary cluster immobilization and Lyn activation: single-molecule tracking study 1. J. Cell Biol. 177, 717-730 (2007). (Papers 7 and 8 were published back-to-back in the same volume of the journal, which was very rare in J. Cell Biol.)
  • N. Morone, T. Fujiwara, K. Murase, R. S. Kasai, H. Ike, S. Yuasa, J. Usukura, and A. Kusumi. Three-dimensional reconstruction of the membrane skeleton at the plasma membrane interface by electron tomography. J. Cell Biol. 174, 851-62 (2006). (Adopted as the cover figure. The journal distributed the printed form with stereoglasses at its own expense)
  • H. Murakoshi, R. Iino, T. Kobayashi, T. Fujiwara, C. Ohshima, A. Yoshimura, and A. Kusumi. Single-molecule imaging analysis of Ras activation in living cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S. A. 101, 7317-7322 (2004). (Adopted in textbooks Alberts et al. “Molecular Biology of the Cell” and Lakowicz “Principles of Fluorescence Spectroscopy”)
  • C. Nakada, K. Ritchie, Y. Oba, M. Nakamura, Y. Hotta, R. Iino, R., R. S. Kasai, K. Yamaguchi, T. Fujiwara, and A. Kusumi. Accumulation of anchored proteins forms membrane diffusion barriers as neurons develop polarization. Nat. Cell Biol. 5, 626-632 (2003). (Featured in “News and Views” of the journal)
  • T. Fujiwara, K. Ritchie, K. Metz-Honda, K. Jacobson, and A. Kusumi. Phospholipids undergo hop diffusion in compartmentalized cell membrane. J. Cell Biol. 157, 1071-1081 (2002). (Adopted as the cover figure and adopted in textbooks Alberts et al. “Molecular Biology of the Cell”, Nelson and Cox “Lehninger’s Principles of Biochemistry”, and Luckey “Membrane Structural Biology”)

Review Articles

  • A. Kusumi. T. A. Tsunoyama, K. M. Hirosawa, R. S. Kasai, and T. K. Fujiwara. Tracking single molecules at work in living cells (review). Nat. Chem. Biol. 17, 524-532 (2014). (Introduced in the “Editorial” of the journal)
  • R. S. Kasai and A. Kusumi. Single-molecule imaging revealed dynamic GPCR dimerization. Curr. Opin. Cell Biol. 27, 78-86 (2014).
  • A. Kusumi, T. K. Fujiwara, R. Chadda, M. Xie, T. A. Tsunoyama, Z. Kalay, R. S. Kasai, and K. G. N. Suzuki. Organizing principles of the plasma membrane for signal transduction: Membrane mechanisms by the three-tiered hierarchical meso-scale domain architecture. Ann. Rev. Cell Dev. Biol. 28, 215-250 (2012).
  • A. Kusumi, C. Nakada, K. Ritchie, K. Murase, K. Suzuki, H. Murakoshi, R. S. Kasai, J. Kondo, and T. Fujiwara. Paradigm shift of the plasma membrane concept from the two-dimensional continuum fluid to the partitioned fluid: high-speed single-molecule tracking of membrane molecules. Ann. Rev. Biophys. Biomol. Struct. 34, 351-378 (2005).