Toshihiro Kitamoto, PhD

Associate Professor of Anesthesia
Associate Professor of Pharmacology

Contact Information

Primary Office: 1-316 BSB
51 Newton Road
Iowa City, IA 52242


BS, Biochemistry, University of Tokyo
MS, Biochemistry, University of Tokyo
PhD, Biochemistry, University of Tokyo

Post Doctoral Fellow, National Institute of Neuroscience
Fellow, Beckman Research, Institute of the City of Hope
Fellow, Beckman Research, Institute of the City of Hope

Education/Training Program Affiliations

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Genetics, Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience, Medical Scientist Training Program

Research Summary

Our lab is interested in understanding the genetic basis of complex behaviors or brain functions, such as learning and memory, sleep and mood. In order to elucidate fundamental mechanisms underlying the control of these behaviors, we take advantage of the power of the Drosophila (fruit fly) genetics, and study the relationship between genes and behavior at the molecular, cellular, systems and whole animal levels. Currently, our main research projects are on 1) the role of steroid hormones in the regulation of sleep and memory, and 2) the neurological pathways that are affected by the mood stabilizing drug lithium that is used for bipolar disorder. By examining the behavior of well-defined Drosophila mutants and transformants, we study the function of particular genes and their genetic interactions in fundamental aspects of behavior. Molecular and anatomical analyses are also being carried out to reveal the mechanisms employed by particular genes in the regulation of behavior. Our recent findings include 1) the insect molting hormone ecdysteroid promotes sleep and regulates long-term memory in adult flies, and 2) the Ca 2+/CaM-dependent phosphatase calcineurin is involved in the lithium's action in the nervous system and a novel SLC6 transporter plays a critical role in resistance to lithium toxicity. Our basic research is expected to provide new insights into the evolutionarily conserved mechanisms underlying higher-order brain functions that control complex behavior. PubMed link to publications:


Hindle, S. J., Munji, R. N., Dolghih, E., Gaskins, G., Orng, S., Ishimoto, H., Soung, A., DeSalvo, M., Kitamoto, T., Keiser, M. J., Jacobson, M. P., Daneman, R. & Bainton, R. J. (2017). Evolutionarily conserved roles for blood-brain barrier xenobiotic transporters in endogenous steroid partitioning and behavior. (Vols. 21). (5), pp. 1304-16. Cell Reports. PMID: 29091768.

Lark, A., Kitamoto, T. & Martin, J. R. (2017). Modulation of neuronal activity in the Drosophila mushroom body by DopEcR, a unique dual receptor for ecdysone and dopamine. (Vols. 1864). (10), pp. 1578-88. Biochimica et biophysica acta. PMID: 28554773.

Lark, A. R., Kitamoto, T. & Martin, J. R. (2016). In vivo functional brain imaging approach based on bioluminescent calcium indicator GFP-Aequorin. (107) Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE. PMID: 26779599.

Petruccelli, E., Li, Q., Rao, Y. & Kitamoto, T. (2016). The unique dopamine/ecdysteroid receptor DopEcR modulates ethanol-induced sedation in Drosophila. (Vols. 36). (16), pp. 4647-57. The journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. PMID: 27098705.

Ehaideb, S. N., Wignall, E. A., Kasuya, J., Evans, W. H., Iyengar, A., Koerselman, H. L., Lilienthal, A. J., Bassuk, A. G., Kitamoto, T. & Manak, J. R. (2016). Mutation of orthologous prickle genes causes a similar epilepsy syndrome in flies and humans. (Vols. 3). (9), pp. 695-707. Annals of clinical and translational neurology. PMID: 27648459.

Shimada, N., Inami, S., Sato, S., Kitamoto, T. & Sakai, T. (2016). Modulation of light-driven arousal by LIM-homeodomain transcription factor Apterous in large PDF-positive lateral neurons of the Drosophila brain. (Vols. 6). pp. 37255. Scientific reports. PMID: 27853240.

Kaas, G. A., Kasuya, J., Lansdon, P., Ueda, A., Iyengar, A., Wu, C. & Kitamoto, T. (2016). Lithium-Responsive Seizure-Like Hyperexcitability Is Caused by a Mutation in the <i>Drosophila</i> Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel Gene <i>paralytic</i>. (Vols. 3). (5) eNeuro. PMID: 27844061.

Petruccelli, E., Lansdon, P. & Kitamoto, T. (2015). Exaggerated nighttime sleep and defective sleep homeostasis in a Drosophila knock-in model of human epilepsy. (Vols. 10). (9), pp. e0137758. PloS one. PMID: 26361221.

Sakai, T., Watanabe, K., Ohashi, H., Sato, S., Inami, S., Shimada, N. & Kitamoto, T. (2014). Insulin-producing cells regulate the sexual receptivity through the painless TRP channel in Drosophila virgin females. (Vols. 9). (2), pp. e88175. PloS one. PMID: 24505416.

Sato, S., Kitamoto, T. & Sakai, T. (2014). Modulation of innate and learned sexual behaviors by the TRP channel Painless expressed in the fruit fly brain: behavioral genetic analysis and its implications. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 8, 400. PMID: 25520634.

Ishimoto, H., Wang, Z., Rao, Y., Wu, C. & Kitamoto, T. (2013). A novel role for ecdysone in Drosophila conditioned behavior: linking GPCR-mediated non-canonical steroid action to cAMP signaling in the adult brain. (Vols. 9). (10), pp. e1003843. PLoS genetics. PMID: 24130506.

Ishimoto, H., Lark, A. & Kitamoto, T. (2012). Factors that Differentially Affect Daytime and Nighttime Sleep in Drosophila melanogaster. Frontiers in neurology, 3, 24. PMID: 22375135.

Inagaki, H. K., Ben-Tabou de-Leon, S., Wong, A. M., Jagadish, S., Ishimoto, H., Barnea, G., Kitamoto, T., Axel, R. & Anderson, D. J. (2012). Visualizing neuromodulation in vivo: TANGO-mapping of dopamine signaling reveals appetite control of sugar sensing. (Vols. 148). (3), pp. 583-95. Cell. PMID: 22304923.

Sakai, T., Inami, S., Sato, S. & Kitamoto, T. (2012). Fan-shaped body neurons are involved in period-dependent regulation of long-term courtship memory in Drosophila. (Vols. 19). (12), pp. 571-4. Learning & memory (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.). PMID: 23154928.

Sakai, T., Sato, S., Ishimoto, H. & Kitamoto, T. (2012). Significance of the centrally expressed TRP channel painless in Drosophila courtship memory. (Vols. 20). (1), pp. 34-40. Learning & memory (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.). PMID: 23247253.

Ishimoto, H., Kitamoto, T. (2011). Beyond molting--roles of the steroid molting hormone ecdysone in regulation of memory and sleep in adult Drosophila. Fly, 5(3), 215-20. PMID: 21444997.

Soshnev, A. A., Ishimoto, H., McAllister, B. F., Li, X., Wehling, M. D., Kitamoto, T., Geyer, P. K. & Birchler, J. A. (2011). A conserved long noncoding RNA affects sleep behavior in Drosophila. (Vols. 189). (2), pp. 455-68. Genetics. PMID: 21775470.

Aldrich, B. T., Kasuya, J., Faron, M., Ishimoto, H. & Kitamoto, T. (2010). The amnesiac gene is involved in the regulation of thermal nociception in Drosophila melanogaster. (Vols. 24). (1), pp. 33-41. Journal of neurogenetics. PMID: 19995327.

Ishimoto, H., Kitamoto, T. (2010). The steroid molting hormone Ecdysone regulates sleep in adult Drosophila melanogaster. (Vols. 185). (1), pp. 269-81. Genetics. PMID: 20215472.

Aso, Y., Siwanowicz, I., Bräcker, L., Ito, K., Kitamoto, T. & Tanimoto, H. (2010). Specific dopaminergic neurons for the formation of labile aversive memory. (Vols. 20). (16), pp. 1445-51. Current biology : CB. PMID: 20637624.

Ishimoto, H., Sakai, T. & Kitamoto, T. (2009). Ecdysone signaling regulates the formation of long-term courtship memory in adult Drosophila melanogaster. (Vols. 106). (15), pp. 6381-6. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 19342482.

Kasuya, J., Kaas, G. & Kitamoto, T. (2009). Effects of lithium chloride on the gene expression profiles in Drosophila heads. (Vols. 64). (4), pp. 413-20. Neuroscience research. PMID: 19410610.

Sakai, T., Kasuya, J., Kitamoto, T. & Aigaki, T. (2009). The Drosophila TRPA channel, Painless, regulates sexual receptivity in virgin females. (Vols. 8). (5), pp. 546-57. Genes, brain, and behavior. PMID: 19531155.

Kasuya, J., Ishimoto, H. & Kitamoto, T. (2009). Neuronal mechanisms of learning and memory revealed by spatial and temporal suppression of neurotransmission using shibire, a temperature-sensitive dynamin mutant gene in Drosophila melanogaster. Frontiers in molecular neuroscience, 2, 11. PMID: 19738923.

Kasuya, J., Kaas, G. A. & Kitamoto, T. (2009). A putative amino acid transporter of the solute carrier 6 family is upregulated by lithium and is required for resistance to lithium toxicity in Drosophila. (Vols. 163). (3), pp. 825-37. Neuroscience. PMID: 19619614.

Aldrich, B. T., Frakes, E. P., Kasuya, J., Hammond, D. L. & Kitamoto, T. (2009). Changes in expression of sensory organ-specific microRNAs in rat dorsal root ganglia in association with mechanical hypersensitivity induced by spinal nerve ligation. (Vols. 164). (2), pp. 711-23. Neuroscience. PMID: 19699278.

Eberl, D. F., Kitamoto, T., Berke, B., O'Connor-Giles, K., Ueda, A., Lee, J., Ruan, H., Engel, J. E. & Ganetzky, B. (2008). Meeting report: genes, neurons, circuits, and behaviors: highlights of Cold Spring Harbor meeting on Drosophila neurobiology, October 3-7, 2007. (Vols. 22). (1), pp. 3-13. Journal of neurogenetics. PMID: 18363161.

Sitaraman, D., Zars, M., LaFerriere, H., Chen, Y., Sable-Smith, A., Kitamoto, T., Rottinghaus, G. E. & Zars, T. (2008). Serotonin is necessary for place memory in Drosophila. (Vols. 105). (14), pp. 5579-84. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 18385379.

Sakai, T., Kitamoto, T. (2006). [Recent development of research on long-term memory in Drosophila]. Seikagaku. The Journal of Japanese Biochemical Society, 78(1), 38-41. PMID: 16491911.

Sakai, T., Kitamoto, T. (2006). Clock, love and memory: Circadian and non-circadian regulation of Drosophila mating behavior by clock genes. Sleep and Biological Rhythms, 4(3), 255-62. DOI: 10.1111/j.1479-8425.2006.00224.x.

Sakai, T., Kitamoto, T. (2006). Differential roles of two major brain structures, mushroom bodies and central complex, for Drosophila male courtship behavior. (Vols. 66). (8), pp. 821-34. Journal of neurobiology. PMID: 16673386.

Sakai, T., Kitamoto, T. & Kidokoro, Y. (2005). The clock gene, period, is essential for long-term memory formation in Drosophila. Cell Technology, 24, 50-1.

Flintoft, L. (2005). Beyond the body clock. (Vols. 6). pp. 3. London, England: Nature Reviews Genetics.

Sreenivasan, A. (2004). Fruit fly courtship puts neurons to work. Science.

Broughton, S. J., Kitamoto, T. & Greenspan, R. J. (2004). Excitatory and inhibitory switches for courtship in the brain of Drosophila melanogaster. (Vols. 14). (7), pp. 538-47. Current biology: CB. PMID: 15062094.

Sakai, T., Tamura, T., Kitamoto, T. & Kidokoro, Y. (2004). A clock gene, period, plays a key role in long-term memory formation in Drosophila. (Vols. 101). (45), pp. 16058-63. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 15522971.

Wang, Y., Chiang, A., Xia, S., Kitamoto, T., Tully, T. & Zhong, Y. (2003). Blockade of neurotransmission in Drosophila mushroom bodies impairs odor attraction, but not repulsion. (Vols. 13). (21), pp. 1900-4. Current biology : CB. PMID: 14588247.

Murphey, R. K., Froggett, S. J., Caruccio, P., Shan-Crofts, X., Kitamoto, T. & Godenschwege, T. A. (2003). Targeted expression of shibire ts and semaphorin 1a reveals critical periods for synapse formation in the giant fiber of Drosophila. (Vols. 130). (16), pp. 3671-82. Cambridge, England: Development. PMID: 12835384.

Kitamoto, T. (2002). Analysis of neuronal functions using a temperature-sensitive molecular switch for synaptic transmission. Biophysics, 42, 236-41.

Kitamoto, T. (2002). Conditional disruption of synaptic transmission induces male-male courtship behavior in Drosophila. (Vols. 99). (20), pp. 13232-7. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 12239352.

Westphal, S. P. (2002). Turning up the heat makes flies fancy the same sex. (Vols. 175). pp. 15. New Scientist.

Choi, C. (2002). Gay flies. (Vols. 287). pp. 34. Scientific American.

Beckman, M. (2002). How to make a fly bi. Science Now.

Kitamoto, T. (2002). Targeted expression of temperature-sensitive dynamin to study neural mechanisms of complex behavior in Drosophila. Journal of neurogenetics, 16(4), 205-28. PMID: 12745632.

Hall, C. T. (2002). Study finds chemical link to sex attraction. San Francisco Chronicle.

Surridge, C. (2002). Turning up the heat turns mutant male flies on to each other. Nature News.

Waddell, S., Quinn, W. G. (2001). Learning how a fruit fly forgets. (Vols. 293). pp. 1271-2. Science.

Kitamoto, T. (2001). Conditional modification of behavior in Drosophila by targeted expression of a temperature-sensitive shibire allele in defined neurons. (Vols. 47). (2), pp. 81-92. Journal of neurobiology. PMID: 11291099.

Menzel, R., Müller, U. (2001). Neurobiology. Learning from a fly's memory. (Vols. 411). (6836), pp. 433-4. Nature. PMID: 11373661.

Dubnau, J., Grady, L., Kitamoto, T. & Tully, T. (2001). Disruption of neurotransmission in Drosophila mushroom body blocks retrieval but not acquisition of memory. (Vols. 411). (6836), pp. 476-80. Nature. PMID: 11373680.

Salvaterra, P. M., Kitamoto, T. (2001). Drosophila cholinergic neurons and processes visualized with Gal4/UAS-GFP. (Vols. 1). (1), pp. 73-82. Brain research. Gene expression patterns. PMID: 15018821.

Kitamoto, T., Xie, X., Wu, C. F. & Salvaterra, P. M. (2000). Isolation and characterization of mutants for the vesicular acetylcholine transporter gene in Drosophila melanogaster. (Vols. 42). (2), pp. 161-71. Journal of neurobiology. PMID: 10640324.

Waddell, S., Armstrong, J. D., Kitamoto, T., Kaiser, K. & Quinn, W. G. (2000). The amnesiac gene product is expressed in two neurons in the Drosophila brain that are critical for memory. (Vols. 103). (5), pp. 805-13. Cell. PMID: 11114336.

Kitamoto, T. (1999). The Drosophila cholinergic locus – its operon-like structure and gene regulation.

Wang, W., Kitamoto, T. & Salvaterra, P. M. (1999). Drosophila choline acetyltransferase temperature-sensitive mutants. (Vols. 24). (8), pp. 1081-7. Neurochemical research. PMID: 10478949.

Kitamoto, T., Wang, W. & Salvaterra, P. M. (1998). Structure and organization of the Drosophila cholinergic locus. (Vols. 273). (5), pp. 2706-13. The Journal of biological chemistry. PMID: 9446576.

Yasuyama, K., Kitamoto, T. & Salvaterra, P. M. (1997). Distribution of putative cholinergic sensory neurons associated with proprioceptive and taste sensilla in the legs of Drosophila melanogaster. (Vols. 14). pp. 289. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology.

Yasuyama, K., Kitamoto, T. & Salvaterra, P. M. (1996). Distribution and central projections of putative cholinergic leg sensory neurons in Drosophila. (Vols. 13). (Suppl), pp. 120. Zoological science.

Yasuyama, K., Kitamoto, T. & Salvaterra, P. M. (1996). Differential regulation of choline acetyltransferase expression in adult Drosophila melanogaster brain. (Vols. 30). (2), pp. 205-18. Journal of neurobiology. PMID: 8738750.

Kitamoto, T., Salvaterra, P. M. (1995). A POU homeo domain protein related to dPOU-19/pdm-1 binds to the regulatory DNA necessary for vital expression of the Drosophila choline acetyltransferase gene. (Vols. 15). (5 Pt 1), pp. 3509-18. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. PMID: 7751926.

Kitamoto, T., Ikeda, K. & Salvaterra, P. M. (1995). Regulation of choline acetyltransferase/lacZ fusion gene expression in putative cholinergic neurons of Drosophila melanogaster. (Vols. 28). (1), pp. 70-81. Journal of neurobiology. PMID: 8586966.

Yasuyama, K., Kitamoto, T. & Salvaterra, P. M. (1995). Immunocytochemical study of choline acetyltransferase in Drosophila melanogaster: an analysis of cis-regulatory regions controlling expression in the brain of cDNA-transformed flies. (Vols. 361). (1), pp. 25-37. The journal of comparative neurology. PMID: 8550879.

Yasuyama, K., Kitamoto, T. & Salvaterra, P. M. (1995). Localization of choline acetyltransferase-expressing neurons in the larval visual system of Drosophila melanogaster. (Vols. 282). (2), pp. 193-202. Cell and tissue research. PMID: 8565051.

Salvaterra, P. M., Kitamoto, T. & Ikeda, K. (1993). Molecular genetic specification of cholinergic neurons. (Vols. 98). pp. 167-73. Progress in brain research. PMID: 8248505.

Kitamoto, T., Salvaterra, P. M. (1993). Developmental regulatory elements in the 5' flanking DNA of the Drosophila choline acetyltransferase gene. (Vols. 202). (3), pp. 159-69. Roux's archives of developmental biology : the official organ of the EDBO. PMID: 28305993.

Kitamoto, T., Ikeda, K. & Salvaterra, P. M. (1992). Analysis of cis-regulatory elements in the 5' flanking region of the Drosophila melanogaster choline acetyltransferase gene. (Vols. 12). (5), pp. 1628-39. The journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. PMID: 1374460.

Miyagawa-Tomita, S., Kitamoto, T., Momma, K., Takao, A. & Momoi, T. (1992). Cellular retinoic acid binding protein type II was preferentially localized in medium and posterior parts of the progress zone of the chick limb bud. (Vols. 185). (1), pp. 217-23. Biochemical and biophysical research communications. PMID: 1318041.

Aikawa, H., Momoi, T., Kitamoto, T., Arahata, K. & Momoi, M. (1989). Expression of cellular retinoic acid binding protein (CRABP) in adult rat brain. (Vols. 10). (3), pp. 247-50. Biomedical Research. DOI: 10.2220/biomedres.10.247.

Momoi, T., Kitamoto, T., Kasuya-Sato, J., Seno, H. & Momoi, M. (1989). Developmental changes in the expression and distribution of cellular retinoic acid binding-protein (CRABP) in the central nervous system of the chick embryo. (Vols. 10). (1), pp. 43-8. Biomedical Research.

Kitamoto, T., Momoi, M. & Momoi, T. (1989). Expression of cellular retinoic acid binding protein II (chick-CRABP II) in the chick embryo. (Vols. 164). (1), pp. 531-6. Biochemical and biophysical research communications. PMID: 2553021.

Kitamoto, T., Nishigai, M., Sasaki, T. & Ikai, A. (1988). Structure of fatty acid synthetase from the Harderian gland of guinea pig. Proteolytic dissection and electron microscopic studies. (Vols. 203). (1), pp. 183-95. Journal of molecular biology. PMID: 3184185.

Momoi, T., Kitamoto, T., Seno, H. & Momoi, M. (1988). The distribution of cellular retinoic acid binding protein (CRABP) in the central nervous system of the chick embryo during the development. (Vols. 64). (9), pp. 294-7. Proceedings of the Japan Academy, Series B. DOI: 10.2183/pjab.64.294.

Kitamoto, T., Momoi, T. & Momoi, M. (1988). The presence of a novel cellular retinoic acid-binding protein in chick embryos: purification and partial characterization. (Vols. 157). (3), pp. 1302-8. Biochemical and biophysical research communications. PMID: 2849937.

Kitamoto, T., Nishigai, M., Ikai, A., Ohashi, K. & Seyama, Y. (1985). The quaternary structure and activity of newly purified fatty acid synthetase from the Harderian gland of guinea-pig. (Vols. 827). (2), pp. 164-73. Biochimica et biophysica acta. PMID: 3967036.

Ikai, A., Kitamoto, T. & Nishigai, M. (1983). Alpha-2-macroglobulin-like protease inhibitor from the egg white of cuban crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer). (Vols. 93). (1), pp. 121-7. Journal of biochemistry. PMID: 6188750.

Kitamoto, T., Nakashima, M. & Ikai, A. (1982). Hen egg white ovomacroglobulin has a protease inhibitory activity. (Vols. 92). (5), pp. 1679-82. Journal of biochemistry. PMID: 6185473.