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Mari Kono, Ph.D.

Photo of Mari Kono
Scientific Focus Areas: Genetics and Genomics, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Neuroscience, Immunology

Professional Experience

  • Staff Scientist, NIDDK, NIH, 2020–present
  • Researcher, NIDDK, NIH, 2006–2020
  • Research fellow, NIDDK, NIH, 1999–2006
  • Research fellow, Frontier Research Program, The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), Japan, 1995–1999
  • Ph.D., Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Japan, 1992
  • D.V.M., M.S., Graduate School of Veterinary Science, Azabu University, Kanagawa, Japan, 1987
  • B.A., School of Veterinary Medicine, Azabu University, Kanagawa, Japan, 1985

Research Goal

My research goal is to understand the role of sphingolipid metabolism and signaling in physiology and diseases and to improve the methods to treat genetic disorders of sphingolipid metabolism.

Current Research

Sphingolipids are essential components of cell membrane and its metabolite sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) functions as a signaling molecule through G-protein coupled receptors of S1P (S1PR1-5). Cells constantly maintain the sphingolipid levels by a series of metabolic chemical reactions. Aberrant sphingolipid metabolism and signaling cause various diseases and developmental abnormalities and there is no cure at present.

As research tools, I create mouse and cultured cell models of sphingolipid metabolic disorders and reporter system that enables detecting S1PR activation. Genetically engineered models allow us to dissect the role of sphingolipid metabolism and signaling.

Gene therapy is a promising treatment for hereditary diseases. I aim to correct genetic mutation in disease mouse models by gene therapies and improve the method to treat sphingolipid metabolic disorders.

Select Publications

Endothelial S1P1 Signaling Counteracts Infarct Expansion in Ischemic Stroke.
Nitzsche A, Poittevin M, Benarab A, Bonnin P, Faraco G, Uchida H, Favre J, Garcia-Bonilla L, Garcia MCL, Léger PL, Thérond P, Mathivet T, Autret G, Baudrie V, Couty L, Kono M, Chevallier A, Niazi H, Tharaux PL, Chun J, Schwab SR, Eichmann A, Tavitian B, Proia RL, Charriaut-Marlangue C, Sanchez T, Kubis N, Henrion D, Iadecola C, Hla T, Camerer E.
Circ Res (2021 Feb 5) 128:363-382. Abstract/Full Text
Genetic defects in the sphingolipid degradation pathway and their effects on microglia in neurodegenerative disease.
Allende ML, Zhu H, Kono M, Hoachlander-Hobby LE, Huso VL, Proia RL.
Cell Signal (2021 Feb) 78:109879. Abstract/Full Text
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Research in Plain Language

My research focuses on understanding the function of sphingolipid metabolism and signaling in normal and disease conditions by using genetically engineered model mice and cells. We also use these models to devise methods to treat sphingolipid metabolic disorders.