Kunie Yoshinaga-Sakurai, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Associate

Cellular Biology & Pharmacology

Office: AHC1 323

Phone: 305-348-1479

Email: ksakurai@fiu.edu

Kunie Yoshinaga-Sakurai is a postdoctoral associate under Distinguished University Professor Barry Rosen. She joined the Rosen lab in 2017 where her research focuses on mechanisms of arsenic toxicity by in vitro analysis with human cells. More recently her studies have expanded into arsenic neurotoxicity and the relationship with the expression of As(III) S-adenosylmethionine methyltransferase (AS3MT) in neuronal cells.


Ph.D., Engineering, Nagaoka University of Technology, Japan
M.S., Engineering, Nagaoka University of Technology, Japan
B.A., Engineering, Nagaoka University of Technology, Japan

Areas of interest/specialization:

Yoshinaga-Sakurai has been analyzing the mechanism of arsenic cytotoxicity in various human cells, especially neuronal cells in the brain. She determined that neurons are the most sensitive to both inorganic As(III) and MAs(III) compared to other brain cell types such as astrocytes, and microglia, and brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs), and that MAs(III) is considerably more toxic than As(III). She determined AS3MT (As(III) S-adenosylmethionine methyltransferase) which is the enzyme that transforms As(III) into highly toxic MAs(III), is expressed in neurons, astrocytes, and microglia but not in BMECs, and found that cell types that express AS3MT methylate As(III). The results suggested that arsenic toxicity is correlated in part with uptake of MAs(III) produced in other tissues, and in part due to endogenous methylation by AS3MT in brain cells.

Research areas

  • Cell biology
  • Toxicology – arsenic neurotoxicity in developmental brain
  • Neuroscience
  • Genetics – gene expression regulation

Selected publications

  1. Yoshinaga-Sakurai K, Rossman TG, Rosen BP. (2021). Regulation of arsenic methylation: Identification of the transcriptional region the human AS3MT gene. Cell Biology and Toxicology. Submitted.
  2. Yoshinaga-Sakurai K, Shinde R, Rodriguez M, Rosen BP, El-Hage N. (2020). Comparative Cytotoxicity of Inorganic Arsenite and Methylarsenite in Human Brain Cells. ACS Chem Neurosci. 11(5):743-751. Doi:10.1021/acschemneuro.9b00653. Impact factor: 3.861. 
  3. Nadar VS., Chen J., Dheeman DS., Galván AE., Yoshinaga-Sakurai K., Kandavelu P., Sankaran B., Kuramata M., Ishikawa S., Rosen BP., Yoshinaga M. (2019). Arsinothricin, an arsenic-containing non-proteinogenic amino acid analog of glutamate, is a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Commun Biol. 2:131.

Active grants

Project: Arsenic neurotoxicity: pathways of arsenic transport through the blood-brain-barrier
Role: Principal Investigator
Sponsor: FIU-RCMI: Investigator Development Pilot Grant Program
Period: July 2021 – June 2022
Total Funding: $50,000
Status: Under review