The Protein Research Group aims to establish a research system for genome- and proteome-based structural biology (structural genomics/proteomics). The purpose of this system will be to: (i) investigate the three-dimensional structures and functions of proteins, (ii) elucidate the molecular mechanisms of biologically and medically important processes, (iii) develop and utilize technologies suitable for large-scale structural biology studies, and (iv) discover chemical compounds on the basis of three-dimensional structure that can control protein function, which will lead to a rational drug design. Our chief objective is to select, prioritize and determine the structures and functions of biologically and medically important protein targets. It is expected that the elucidated structures and functions will be utilized for the development of drugs targeting various diseases. Compared to other large-scale protein research projects around the world, our research scheme is unique in that we have placed intensive focus on proteins from higher organisms, particularly from human and mouse. In conjunction with proteins from higher organisms, we also conduct intensive studies on bacteria and archaea, which serve as simpler yet comparable models to eukaryotes. Results obtained from our research are transferred to and utilized by industrial parties. It is our ultimate goal to use the momentum derived from protein research to effect a major impact on the immense realm comprising life science. Through our endeavors, we also expect the emergence of numerous technologies and breakthroughs.
For the thorough understanding of protein structure and function, a schematic approach to elucidating the protein network at the molecular level is crucial. Virtually all bioprocesses are mediated by relays and interactions among various biological molecules of all sizes including proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, sugars, metal ions, and others. To elucidate this highly intricate bio-network, a thorough investigation of protein complexes is necessary because inter-molecular interactions, both transient and permanent, form the basis of the network. Past research has identified several domains that play a predominant role in the formation of the network. We are now determining the structures and functions of the proteins and their domains and applying the knowledge to investigations of inter-domain interactions, domain-motif interactions, and other relevant studies that help us to elucidate the protein network.
Continuous effort on technology development has resulted in a refinement of the quality of protein structure/function analysis and a broadening of technical capacities, the combination of which fosters further development of next-generation core technologies. What was once a laborious and painstaking process can now be achieved easily through automated analysis pipelines in a time-, energy-, and cost-efficient manner. Such highly efficient and refined research pipelines enable us to elucidate the structure/function of once-unobtainable bio-molecules such as membrane proteins and various high molecular weight complexes that play essential roles in various bioprocesses. We expect that steady technological improvements in the pipelines and in pertinent disciplines in structural bioscience such as NMR and X-ray crystallography will contribute to progress in medical science and therefore, the betterment of humanity.
Equipped with state-of-the-art research pipelines and unrelenting ambition, we will produce and disseminate valuable research results to the maximum extent possible through a Government-University-Industry cooperative network. Fortification of this cooperative network is our priority. In parallel with the development of technologies and fortification of the cooperative network, we also endeavor to set up an education system, through which personnel training can be carried out.