Yukiko Yamashita

Yukiko Yamashita

Professor of Biology; Core Member, Whitehead Institute; Co-Chair, Biology Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Yukiko Yamashita studies two fundamental aspects of multicellular organisms: how cell fates are diversified via asymmetric cell division, and how genetic information is transmitted through generations via the germline.





Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research


Donna Hicks



Assistant Phone


  • PhD, 1999, Kyoto University
  • BS, Biology, 1994, Kyoto University

Research Summary

Two remarkable feats of multicellular organisms are generation of many distinct cell types via asymmetric cell division and transmission of the germline genome to the next generation, essentially in eternity. Studying these processes using the Drosophila male germline as a model system has led us to venture into new areas of study, such as functions of satellite DNA, a 'genomic junk,' and how they might be involved in speciation.


  • Tsuneko and Reiji Okazaki Award, 2016
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Investigator, 2014
  • MacArthur Fellow, 2011
  • Women in Cell Biology Early Career Award, American Society for Cell Biology, 2009
  • Searle Scholar, 2008

Recent Publications

  1. rDNA magnification is a unique feature of germline stem cells. Nelson, JO, Kumon, T, Yamashita, YM. 2023. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 120, e2314440120.
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.2314440120PMID:37967216
  2. The implications of satellite DNA instability on cellular function and evolution. Flynn, JM, Yamashita, YM. 2024. Semin Cell Dev Biol 156, 152-159.
    doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2023.10.005PMID:37852904
  3. A maternally programmed intergenerational mechanism enables male offspring to make piRNAs from Y-linked precursor RNAs in Drosophila. Venkei, ZG, Gainetdinov, I, Bagci, A, Starostik, MR, Choi, CP, Fingerhut, JM, Chen, P, Balsara, C, Whitfield, TW, Bell, GW et al.. 2023. Nat Cell Biol 25, 1495-1505.
    doi: 10.1038/s41556-023-01227-4PMID:37723298
  4. Asymmetric Stem Cell Division and Germline Immortality. Yamashita, YM. 2023. Annu Rev Genet 57, 181-199.
    doi: 10.1146/annurev-genet-022123-040039PMID:37552892
  5. Why Ys are not necessarily toxic. Yamashita, YM. 2023. Nat Ecol Evol 7, 1177-1178.
    doi: 10.1038/s41559-023-02079-9PMID:37308702
  6. The retrotransposon R2 maintains Drosophila ribosomal DNA repeats. Nelson, JO, Slicko, A, Yamashita, YM. 2023. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 120, e2221613120.
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.2221613120PMID:37252996
  7. Analysis of Gene Expression Patterns and RNA Localization by Fluorescence in Situ Hybridization in Whole Mount Drosophila Testes. Fingerhut, JM, Yamashita, YM. 2023. Methods Mol Biol 2666, 15-28.
    doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-3191-1_2PMID:37166654
  8. Derepression of Y-linked multicopy protamine-like genes interferes with sperm nuclear compaction in D. melanogaster. Park, JI, Bell, GW, Yamashita, YM. 2023. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 120, e2220576120.
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.2220576120PMID:37036962
  9. Fusome topology and inheritance during insect gametogenesis. Diegmiller, R, Imran Alsous, J, Li, D, Yamashita, YM, Shvartsman, SY. 2023. PLoS Comput Biol 19, e1010875.
    doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1010875PMID:36821548
  10. Emergent dynamics of adult stem cell lineages from single nucleus and single cell RNA-Seq of Drosophila testes. Raz, AA, Vida, GS, Stern, SR, Mahadevaraju, S, Fingerhut, JM, Viveiros, JM, Pal, S, Grey, JR, Grace, MR, Berry, CW et al.. 2023. Elife 12, .
    doi: 10.7554/eLife.82201PMID:36795469




Photo credit: Courtesy of the University of Michigan