Our Research



Taniguchi lab aims to better understand the genetic and molecular mechanisms of gene expression underlying pathological behaviors in substance use disorder (ref1-2) and stress-related mental disorders (ref3). Among the many symptoms in these brain-behavior diseases, we focus on reward-related behaviors, such as reward-seeking, the ability to experience a hedonic state, and motivation toward a natural and/or drug reward. We use a combination of molecular biology techniques and rodent behavior assays to accomplish this research theme.  


Experimental approach:

Molecular mechanisms of gene expression: 

We use molecular biology techniques to investigate the regulatory mechanisms of gene expression, such as epigenetic modifications, genomic DNA 3D loop structure, and non-coding RNA function. We generate new genetic tools to manipulate gene expressions and regulatory mechanisms in vivo. 


Rodent behavior assay:

We use viral-mediated approaches to manipulate epigenetic regulatory mechanisms and expression of target genes and test the role in reward-related behaviors in vivo. These animals who receive viral-mediated gene manipulation are subjected to exposure to cocaine/heroin or stressors, followed by the behavior assay, including general learning and memory, mood-related behaviors, reward-seeking behaviors, drug addiction, and depression-related behaviors. 


These approaches using newly develop tools provide novel insights into the fundamental neuroscience field and identify the pathological mechanisms of human mental disorders.  



Taniguchi M, Carreira B.M., Smith N. L., Zirlin C. B., Neve L. R., Cowan W. C.  Histone deacetylase 5 limits cocaine reward through cAMP-induced nuclear import. Neuron, 2012, 73, 108-120, PMCID: PMC3259532

Taniguchi M*, Carreira B*. M., Cooper A. Y., Bobadilla C. A., Heinsbroek A. J., Koike N., Larson B E., Balmuth A, E, Hughes W. B., Penrod D. R., Kumar J., Smith N. L., Guzman D., Takahashi S. J., Kim T-K., Kalivas. W. P., Self W. D., Lin Y., Cowan C W. HDAC5 and its target gene, NPAS4, function in the nucleus accumbens to regulate cocaine conditioned behaviors. Neuron, 2017, 96, 130-144, (*These authors contributed equally), PMCID: PMC5761688Hughes BW., Siemsen BM., Berto S., Kumar J., Cornbrooks RG., Akiki RM., Carter JS., Scofield MD., Cowan CS.,

Taniguchi M. NPAS4 in the medial prefrontal cortex mediates chronic social defeat stress-induced anhedonia and dendritic spine loss. BioRxiv preprint, 2021. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.03.04.433930v2